THE FATHER OF THE SEA
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OF THE SEA
y/A'Z) OTHER LEGENDS OF THE DEEP
W. CLARK RUSSELL
The Ocean was before the Land '
— The Mariner^ s Cretd
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON W CO.
MERCAT PRESS, EDINBURGH
BY GRACIOUS I'EKMISSION
TO THR ROYAL NAVAI. CADF-T
EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES
THE HOPE AND PRIDE OF
THE BRITISH i: M I' I K E
* A National Asset ' . . . .10
The Father of the Sea . . .19
The Mariner's Creed ... 30
Fletcher Christian's Lament . . 35
The Plymouth Buccaneers . . 41
In Chains 49
The Man Who Wasn't There . -52
The Middle Passage .... 80
Dance's Tea-Fight . . . -89
The Ballad of Peter Serrano , . 97
* The London,' Privateer . . .110
The Deal Boatmen . . . .119
That Abraham . . . . .122
In Falmouth Harbour . . -137
The Pilgrims 139
The Sailing Ship . . . • "45
Captain Te.-^ch 151
Some time ago Mr Lewis Melville, the
well-known author, compiled a sea-
anthology entitled Full Fathom Five
which he did me the honour to dedicate
to me. In this collection was included
a poem by my pen named Marooned.
A copy was sent to Mr Theodore
Watts-Dunton, the eminent novelist,
critic and poet, who in thanking Mr
Melville for the book, said that in his
opinion Marooned was the getn of the
volume. This praise proceeding from such
a source determined me to polish and
rearrange the pieces from which Af(/rc(?«^^
had been taken and to issue what is
practically a third edition. The volume
under another name was very well
received, and some of the poems,
(notably Fletcher Christian s Lament^ The
Father of the Sea^ The Mariner s Q'eed),
warmly praised by men whose applause
is sincere, whose critical discernment
is of high quality, and whose approval
therefore is honourable to the recipient
A National Asset
By Captain W. J. Ward
Author of ' That Supercargo' ' The Lady Shipper,' etc.
SONNET TO W. CLARK RUSSELL
Lover of words am I — my cradle swung
To cadences poetic, and the grain
Throve in the garden of the infant
And a deep passion for the mother-
Rooted and flourished, and with it has
A gratitude intense to all the train
Of word-magicians who a native strain,
Noble and beautiful, have ever sung —
And now, O master, I acknowledge thee
Chiefest of all who paint in English
The windy sparkle of the olive sea.
The silver shoaling on a coral beach —
How oft upon thine islands have I
Like lotus-eaters and have been
From English Sea Pictures^ by Julia
D. Young, Author of Barharn
Beach, the President's Poem. — New
[I am induced to reprint this notice
from the Mantime Review , for two
reasons : — first it is very charmingly
written ; next, it is from the pen of
a master mariner of Cardiff, Captain
W. J. Ward, a man whose experience of
the sea-life is very wide, who has long
served and long commanded in sail and
steam. Commendations from such
sources as this are peculiarly agreeable
to me ; and I would rather win the
approval of one such sailor as Captain
Ward than the heartiest applause of
the many brackish-water Jacks and
longshoremen who accept the serious
duties of the critic]
It was at a noted house of call for
shipmasters at Calcutta, and present
were a number of skippermen who
could tell you everything about the
sea, right from A to Z. For a wonder,
they had forsaken the theme that is
said to be dear to their hearts — com-
missions, and the ' making ' of money ! —
and because the ' literary ' member of the
gathering had commenced to talk about
a book that was then ' all the rage,'
Jack's Courtship^ to wit.
After expatiating on the beauties of
the book, and the true-to-life manner
in which it was written, one of the
hardy seamen present repeated, ' Jack's
Courtship ? Who's it by ? ' The simple
query appeared to ruffle the feelings
of the * literary ' member, and for a time
he satisfied himself with a mere focuss-
ing of a quizzical look at the questioner.
When that worthy had grown sufficiently
uncomfortable, and had commenced to
wriggle about as if he contemplated
a sudden departure from the venue,
the * literary ' man said :
' Who's it by ? Why, whom do you
think it is likely to be by ? Supposing,
that is, that it's calculated to keep a
sailorman's attention for five minutes ?
If you really wish to know, I don't
mind telling you that it's by a national
asset, me man ; and one that the
country is proud of.'
This seemed to nonplus the querist.
He admitted that, in his travels at sea,
and thanks to signing-on many queer
nationalities, he had happened upon
some peculiar names. Still, he gave
it as his opinion that a Mr National
Asset was about the limit. He further-
more queried as to whether the gentle-
man was a Frenchman.an Arab — or what ?
With a look that was calculated to
kill, the ' literary ' member remarked,
in what he considered to be a more or
less inconsequent manner :
' Clark Russell — and he doesn't need
any full style and title, for to us that
love him, he will always be just Clark
Russell — is the national asset to which
I was referring, and he belongs to no
particular country, or time. He is a
national asset, right enough ; but he
is that to every country on earth, that
aspires to a merchant navy of its own.
If his books are published in English,
he is a national asset to the Briton. If
French is the medium, then, he is a
national asset to the Gaul. If the wily
Teuton undertakes the publication, then
he is a national asset to the German —
and so, me man. There is no doubt
And frankly, there is no doubt. Mr
W. Clark Russell is precisely that
which the skipperman suggested, and
in the matter of recruiting young
would-be sailors for the merchant
marine, he has probably done more
yeoman service than any dozen ex-
ponents of the art. The mere fact
that a number of them have forsaken
the sea in later life, is not attributable
to Mr Clark Russell. His magic pen
awakened the sea-craving in their blood.
They shipped. But careless employers
failed to bolster up the good work
wrought by the novelist. And there
is still a dearth of seamen.
So far then, we have considered the
opinions of those who the gifted writer
loved so well ; and for whose benefit
he has struggled, through good repute
and ill — for it naturally follows that, in
accepting the part of champion for the
helpless, he has experienced his fair
share of opprobrium from the exploiters
of those unfortunates. At the same
time, it is good to remember that he
has encomiums from the highest in the
land — a fact which has doubtless buoyed
him up when writing from a bed of
sickness which has been his, for so many
years ; a sickness that would have
curdled the love and endeavour, in
any but a hero.
For instance, our present Kin^ has
tendered his meed of praise to * Clark
Russell,' when accepting the dedication
of What Cheer? On that occasion
Major-General Sir Francis de Winton
* His Royal Highness the Duke ot
York ' (now King George V.) ' has
always taken a great interest in our
Mercantile Marine, and he is happy
to think that the condition of our
Merchant seamen is steadily though
slowly improving, and it is due to you
and your works, in his opinion, that
much of the improvement has taken
place.' Will any thinking man, who
is cognisant of the circumstances, dis-
agree with His Gracious Majesty ? We
venture to say. No. We are absolutely
certain that no thinkingr sailorman will
beg to differ.
Then, an authority of the magnitude
of Sir Edwin Arnold — the gifted author
of T/ie L,iglit of Asia — was constrained to
admit that ' Clark Russell is the prose
Homer of the great Ocean ' ; and the
poet, A. C. Swinburne, declared that
' He is the greatest master of the sea,
living or dead, and his name is a
household word wherever the Encrlish
language is spoken, and the splendid
qualities of the British sailor known
As we have already remarked, Mr
Swinburne might safely have gone a
bit further, in which event he could
1 6 PREFACE
have written, 'wherever the language
of the sea is spoken,' for there Mr Clark
Russell is sure of the homage which is
justly his. In this country, it is not the
fashion to ennoble those who really do
something for their time and genera-
tion — unfortunately. The maker of a
particular brand of beer, or the ' in-
ventor' of a patent-button-hook —
providing both items have earned the
increment which ultimately gets into the
' party chest ' — can depend on receiving
the recommendation for which his soul
But the ' national asset ' : the man
whose name will be remembered for
centuries after the beer and button-
hooks have been relegated to the limbo
of forgotten commodities ; well, that
sort of asset is ennobled in itself. For
example : If Mr Clark Russell were
disguised as a peer, and then wrote a
book as such, would anybody give it
a second thought ? Of course not.
Until they had learned that the title
was merely a joke upon their much-
loved ' Clark Russell,' that is.
And in totalling up the output, so to
say, from his pen, we find that this
giant has already written no less than
fifty-seven books — every one of them
good and worthy of his name. Think
of it ? Fifty-seven books, to say
nothing of the bulk of literary matter
in addition thereto, and all of which
has been scattered broadcast for the
ultimate good of humanity. For no
deserving cause ever found ' Clark
Russell ' disinclined to break a lance in
its favour ; no helpless, or downtrodden
unit of the world's make-up, ever
pleaded to him in vain.
Yet the major portion of this
stupendous output has been wrought,
as already remarked, from a bed of
sickness. Well might it be said that
the sea, whose votary he is, filled him
with virility during the relatively few
years* in which he tempted its vagaries.
We have no wish to appear to intrude
on the privacy of Mr Clark Russell,
but we have heard him resignedly
compare himself with Tom Bowling,
and suggest that ' Here, a sheer hulk,'
best fits his case. But even so, and
' sheer hulk ' nothwithstanding, he
would write a book here ; pen a trenchant
letter there ; make a strenuous appeal,
* Eight years— W. C. R.
1 8 PREFACE
elsewhere ; aye, and e'en while he would
twist and turn in pain, during the
Of a surety is such a hero a national
asset, and the more we think of the
subject, the greater is our admiration
for that skipper out at Calcutta, who
first called our attention to the fact.
May the fates be kinder to the stricken
writer, and may he long be spared to
wield his able pen. The nation can
better spare many more-advertised and
gaudily-decorated patriots, than can it
Mr William Clark Russell — a citizen
of the universal world.
THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The Wanderer of the Deep is not the
Jew who walks the Land,
Which solemn truth my shipwreck
gaveth me to understand.
Alone of fifty seamen I survived and
The scene of this disaster was the coast
A rugged frozen, storm-dark spot ; my
life-book had been shut,
But for the shelter of a Codman's tight,
tarr'd, empty hut.
Salt is the flesh of sea-duck and the
yolk of eggs in rocks.
The seal and porcupine are there and
gannets in great flocks.
The highlands yield you water and the
lowlands yield you fuel ;
My tinder-box made fire but the ice-
tooth'd wind was cruel.
The iceberg starting out of fog would
stare with ghastly gleam :
Aurora clad in rainbow-lights would
flicker, flash and stream.
20 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The sudden fox with hearkening ears
would bark, then disappear :
Abreast was Cape Farewell — I'd often
wish it was Cape Clear !
But though the moss was soft and deep,
like women's eyes in hue ;
But though the sea-bird flamed in flight
in purple, rose and blue ;
But though the ice-floe broke the sun
like prisms full of glory ;
But though the coast looked fortress-
like in tower and bastion hoary ;
Whate'er the sight of beast, of bird, of
growth upon that old land.
The Soul of desolation is the Monarch
of that cold land.
I went one morn to view the sea from
a commanding height ;
Its breast was caged in ribbed ice and
nothing was in sight.
With spirit crushed by solitude my
hut-path I retraced.
But entering, my hair stood up ! by
what thing was I faced ?
Man do I call that Terror ? What !
a thing of human birth ^
Then never was another man like him
seen on this earth !
THE FATHER OF THE SEA 21
He frown'd on me o'er folded arms
His clothes were pantaloons (fur out)
made of the skin of seal.
His gabardine of fur was like his yellow
cap of skin ;
His mighty beard poured in smoke
from hidden cheek and chin.
His eyes shone faint as falling stars
when mirror'd in clear ice ;
His brows were bush'd with little mats
like skins of two white mice ;
His hair like vapour, clothed his back,
as clouds clothe Table Mountain ;
His fingers seem'd mere spikes of ice
which fringe a frozen fountain.
His flesh was like the parchment that
is black with beat of drum ;
I look'd above — around — below —
whence had this Terror come .''
I marked no boat — no steed — no sledge
for fox or wolf or deer :
Mother of God ! my hair rose when
I asked, ' How came you here ? '
His voice was hollow as the moan of
wind in a sea-cave's mouth :
* This is my answer : East and West,
from North pole to the South —
2 2 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
I wander o'er the Ocean, I'm the
Father of the Sea !
I'm that which was, I'm that which Is,
I'm that which e'er shall be ! '
' Thou'rt the creature of my loneliness,'
I cried, * and of a mind
That's mad by heed of where it is and
what it's left behind.
But though a Vision be thou real ! as
such some comfort bring,
I'd rather trust a Lie than have no faith
in anything ! '
And then spake I and said again, * My
Lenten fare is lean.
Cold gannet and cold water and a sea-
mew's egg between.'
With haughty hand he stayed my
tongue : * I am not here for cheer ;
I'm come to tell my story after which
He sat him down, I sat me down : or
real or Fancy's freak
'Twas pleasant to have company, to
hear even that clay speak.
* I've been a sailor of the Ark, of
Carthage, and of Tyre.
I've sailed with the Ancients of Gebal
to coasts of snow and fire ;
THE FATHER OF THE SEA 23
I've sail'd in Lydian, Carian ships,
Ciliciaii, and in Phrygian,
Babylonian and Assyrian, and Phoenician
and in Scythian.
I've sail'd in boats of Egypt of acantha
And tamarisk (reed-wattled) forming
rafts for those who hire us ;
I've sail'd with old Sataspes round the
headland called Spartel,
By way o' the Pillars of Hercules with
Xerxes' stern cartel.
In mighty Alexander's fleet for India
did I 2:0.
To musick and the clang of arms and
measur'd chant we row.
' Our weapons gleam'd with blue of
steel and light of gold was there
In martial garb ; whilst brilliant dyes
of pennons shook the air.
Phoenician ships were built of fir of
Senir, and their masts
Were Lebanon cedars, and the oars of
Bashan's oak which lasts.
The benches of the rowers were of
ivory from Chittim,
The wise men who were pilots kept
their vessel very trim.
24 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Her sails were made of linen with
Egyptian broidery :
And Tarshish with her rich fairs, was
her Merchant of the Sea.
She loaded amber, corn and salt, and
metal from the mine,
And chariot-cloths and products of the
husbandman and vine.
* The Libyan's silent barter, Damascus'
The wheat and honey, oil and balm and
The Arabian rams and silk-haired goats
from Kedar's Kings afar ;
Such freights I've known, such ships
I've sailed in under every star !
I've scour'd the sea with ruining Goths ;
with Vikings I have plunder 'd
Pass'd Orkney and the Shetlands and
grim coasts by wild foam sunder'd.
In the Holker and the Draker with the
Dane my bow I've bent.
The flag o' the Raven flying to wrest
Thanet's Isle from Kent.
I've sail'd with Swein for Norfolk's
coast : his lofty vanes were built
In shape of birds : Great Dragon is
right royal with silk and gilt.
THE FATHER OF THE SEA 25
She hangs abroad a standard in whose
heart the Raven reigns ;
She's like a moated Castle filled with
fearless fiery Danes.'
I shudder'd : * Does your memory,' I
said, ' go back to Eden ? '
' I talk not of that Paradise : but Den-
mark and of Sweden.'
' How many ^ons old art thou ? ' ' O
mortal, ask me not !
But hold you this, because I'm here,
by Time I'm not forgot.
Though slowly, when thou'rt waiting,
sinks the sand inside the glass,
Thou'lt find, despite impatience, that
the long years swiftly pass.
I'm Sovran of the Ocean, whilst the
world is I shall reign ;
With the Sailor I was suckled, with the
Sailor I remain.
' The drama of Invasion was by mighty
The Roman lost his soldiers and the
Briton got his trade.
I steer'd a thrice-bank'd galley to the
shallows of the Stour,
And saw the giants blue and fierce in
hosts upon the shore.
26 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
They'd chariots and coracles and darts
which slew when hurl'd,
The spirit of those Britons mock'd the
Emperor of the world.
They fought for soil and freedom, for
the forest and the glen,
The yellow crop, the Druid's oak, the
women and old men ;
The children who as Britons born no
Roman durst subdue,
For Britain then. Great Britain now,
and then as now True Blue !
' Of all the massive memories which
form the pyramid
In which my spirit like a King of
Egypt, lieth hid.
None makes my blood run swifter, fills
mine eyes with prouder fire
Than that of Lord Columbus and his
ship the Saint Maria.
Oh, name me in Life's Domesday Book
a greater and a grander,
A kinglier soul, diviner seer as Prophet
Who saw, with eyesight touch'd by
God, a new world far away.
More glorious than the Indies, and
more marvellous than Cathay.
THE FATHER OF THE SEA 27
Of men he was the monarch and his
crown was God's command.
No mere dynastic king was he, through
theft of gold or land,
The Sovran of the West whose sun
flamed on his flag unfurled.
And God-like, what his genius made,
that gave he to the world.
* I see him now upon the deck, a figure
sunk in thought :
The lip-ht in which the New World shone,
the Prophet's soul had caught.
He'd stand alone with passive mien and
face of lion-power,
And rapt in spirit watch the West for
hour after hour.
Three quiet, lonesome ships were we,
our hearts were filled with fear :
The land we knew was sunk astern, the
unknown deep was here.
The very Seaman's Card rebell'd : we
could not con aright.
Nor could our saints and candle-vows
snufi^ out St Elmo's light.
* The demon of the water-spout dis-
dained our crosswise knives.
The storm-fiend spurn'd the butter-
cake we made to save our lives.
28 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The seav/eed clung about us and with
catlike velvet claws
Delay'd our sobbing keels in wrath for
daring Nature's laws.
But what could daunt our Admiral's
heart ? When " Land ! " was cried
Upon his knees he thank'd dear God :
when lo ! it proved a cloud !
More reverent grew his upturned eyes,
whilst speechless he adored ;
His was the faith that's noblest in its
whole trust in the Lord.'
The Wanderer's face seem'd vaguer yet ;
more dim the strange man grew ;
His hair more vapour-like in fall, his
eyes more misty blue ;
As feebly lighted figures in a mirror
Retire into a phantom-shape as stars
swoon into dawn ;
So seem'd this thing to fade and wane ;
then in a voice as dree^
As cries of drowning men heard in the
calling of the sea,
He said, * Pray fetch me water to
refresh my tired tone.'
Forth stepp'd I and on coming back,
I found myself alone !
THE FATHER OF THE SEA 29
But hark ! what is that echo in the
breakers on the shore ?
What is that rhythm dwelling in the
winds of Labrador ?
What chant was in the fox's bark before
the whaler found mc ?
What song was in the thunder-making
ice and bergs which bound me ?
What was't I heard a-thrilling through
the coloured northern lights ?
The comet's silver javelin sheering
through the silent nights ?
The ice-sheathed cliffs which sentinel
the giant kelp below :
The hill-side dumb with frozen trees,
the Arctic lunar bow ?
I heard the rhyme in soundless things :
its voice no heart could miss
In flight of bird, in sleep of seal — that
rhyme was ever this :
'I wander o'er the Ocean, I'm the
Father of the Sea,
I'm that which was, I'm that which is,
I'm that which e'er shall be.'
The Mariner's Creed
' And darkness was upon the f;ce of the deep j
and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
The Ocean was by God's command.
The Ocean was before the Land,
Before the Land sprang into being,
Mountain-crowned and valley-deep :
Beautiful with lakes and meadows,
Falling foam on golden shore ;
Noble with the towering forest
And the shouting cataract's leap,
Heaven-like in the summer sunset.
Hell-like in the tempest's roar.
The throne of Night was on the Sea
Night's central soul and voice was He
Till, phantom-wise that soul took form ;
Then spake the Voice in calm and storm.
With Visions fashioned or begun
The Sea was clothed ere yet there was
My princely gallants, give me heed
And hearken to a Sailor's Creed.
THE MARINER'S GREED 31
What think ye of yon theatre
Of walls and roof and groundlings' pit ?
'Tis but a dusty, hollow house,
Chill as a galleon's freightless hold.
But how's it when the curtain's raised,
The musick play'd, the candles lit,
When the actors sing or act or dance.
And, festive, ape the Age's mould ?
What magic do those players order ?
It warbles in the soft recorder ;
Shines in the actress' eloquent eyes.
Thrills in the swain's impassioned sighs.
Gives life to all we see and feel.
And makes the Visions of the mind's
And would'st thou then the Ocean strip
Of mermaid and of phantom-ship ?
The homage of the mighty Deep
Unto the mightier lunar charm ?
The tide's discourse, St Elmo's fire.
The arts by which the wind's subdued ?
Would'st force a bosom, zoned by
That storms in tempest, smiles in calm,
To heave, to sleep — an inland lake ! —
In barren prose of solitude ?
O tell me not ihat play is ended !
O still be mine the Vision splendid 1
32 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The gleams, the glooms, the melodies,
Dwell in my spirit's ears and eyes.
My memories, moods and love they
All hail, thou Soul, thou Mother of my
The bosom's rise and fall are breath —
What mean the Tides but life and death ?
The sobbing Ebb streams darkling o'er
The shingle and the snake-like weed :
And with it goes the dead man's soul
To the unknown Sea beyond the sun ;
The Flood makes with its rhythmic
And glad voice of a Spirit freed,
And to the mother bears the babe
Which from the Unknown Sea it won.
An hollow-theatre's silent stage
Is the Ocean in a knowing age !
No life ere life began is there.
The eyes are blank, the bosom bare :
What if It be not wind and foam ?
The soul hath fled, the spirits have no
Behold the Ocean's Queen on high :
She floods the stars and fills the sky.
A white cloud wanly veils her face
In envy of her loving beam,
THE MARINER'S GREED 33
And the Ocean who's her sovereign lord,
Frowns to behold her cloud-empearled :
Upon his breast her picture shines,
Upon this symbol doth she dream,
And as she moves, with lifted heart
He goes with her around the world.
Blind eyes have they who will not see :
The hidden truth's the truth to me ;
It's in the still, small voice in things ;
It's in the song the blackbird sings ;
It's in the violet's perfumed hue :
It is the soul that makes her semblance true.
Shall not the sea her musick keep ?
Ye've slain the minstrels of the deep.
How chants the billow, sings the surge ?
What is the foaming valley's sound .''
What lilt is in the lipping tide .''
Declare what says the headlong breaker !
Whilst she who gave them melodies
Lies white in her pavilion drown'd !
Sweet mermaid of the bright breasts —
Why did the mariner forsake her ?
The ripple warbled in her throat.
The breaker timed the harp she smote :
Th' Andean surge snatched harmony
From his lone Virgin of the Sea.
But now, until the gale be done
The Ocean hoarsely bellows at the Sun.
34 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
In the unseen, interpreted
By what is seen, the truth is read.
And what is it to ye or me
That instinct governs fish or beast ?
Seek ye the hidden spirit in them
And by construction truth detect.
Knowest thou not that death is near
When gleams the shark in the white
wake's yeast .'*
Heed'st thou never the spell-woven
That makes the gale when the ship is
My heart is still at her commands
Who sings to me on golden sands.
Mine ears shall hear the catspaw purr
To the whistle of the mariner.
My soul the Sea shall greatly dare
To view as when the Nio^ht alone was
Fletcher Christian's Lament
At this question he seemed confused, and
answered with much emotion, 'That Captain
Bligh, — that is the thing ; — I am in Hell — I am
in Hell ! '—Mutiny of H.M.S. Bounty.
In 's cabin, sunk in sullen thought,
lay Mr William Bligh,
Lieutenant who was skipper of the
His face was plump and girlish, and he
had a vicious eye.
His heart no tender thought could melt
nor God's own power awe.
(O gentlemen of Britain, think of us
beyond the sea !
And likewise all you ladies who enslave
the men who're free.)
The sternest of us cannot speak of
England without tears.
No sailors were more dutiful.
Our love of home was beautiful,
'Twas Bligh o' the Bounty man-of-war
who made us mutineers.
36 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
I see him now, more white than pink :
his hair hung in a tye :
A tarnish'd cocked-hat sat athwart ; his
stout shanks sank in shoes.
His cold keen eyes turned round about
the smallest fault to spy.
The object of his being was his sailors
(O gentlemen !) for trifles, sirs, aloft,
alow he'd stare,
(O ladies, kind !) his insolence no sailor
man could bear ;
He traded on our discipline, trucked
basely in our fears —
At heart we were a loyal crew.
From yard-arm earring down to
'Twas bloody-minded girlish Bligh
who made us mutineers.
We'd visited the islands, knew the
fairest of the land.
The groves of palms, the waterfalls, the
fire-clothed mountain-dome ;
The cocoa-trees and sweet roots, the
canoes by warriors manned,
The coral beach and laughing Venus
beckoning in the foam.
FLETCHER CHRISTIAN 37
But (gentlemen of Briiain), do you
think we wronged our fame
(O ladies, kind), do you suppose we
madly sought our shame
For love of dusky women who could
never be our dears ?
('Tis rapture when they greet ye
On the shores of Otaheite.)
'Twas heartless, cold, no-sailor Bligh
who made us mutineers.
Who uses ill the sailor is no sailor, take
you heed !
A loyal heart's the noblest gem in
Britain's brilliant crown.
We'd foughten for our country, and
for her again would bleed.
We'd circle twenty times the globe to
add to her renown.
Why (gentlemen of Britain) did we
send that Bligh adrift,
(O ladies,) with our shipmates without
pity, without shrift .''
To spurn the service of the King and
rove as privateers .''
We're human, like our fellows,
For Bligh despised the gallows ;
He forced our hand to seize the ship
and end as mutineers.
38 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
'Twas April, seventeen eighty-one, and
just before the dawn ;
And Captain Bligh was sleeping in his
cabin all alone.
He'd kept a watch below in scowling
thought as I have drawn
In the opening of this ditty, writ to
make our story known ;
When (gentlemen of Britain) Fletcher
Christian, Master's mate,
And (ladies, kind) three other sailors
filled with wrath and hate.
Burst in upon Lieutenant Bligh, who up
his figure rears ;
We flung the tyrant on the deck.
And swore we'd break his scoundrel
If he opposed the seamen he transform'd
On this he holloas hoarsely, and for
aid begins to yelp ;
We bound his hands behind his back,
and ran him through the door.
His officers were locked away, and no
man else would help
This bully of a crew as good as any
crew of yore.
FLETCHER CHRISTIAN 39
Then (gentlemen), this girl-faced man
about our duty stutters,
And (ladies, kind) against our act a
pitiful protest sputters.
We told him to belay his jaw, and
batten down his fears.
Our justice with him would not
'Twas either boat or yard-arm halter :
For he it was, the plump-faced Bligh,
who made us mutineers.
The ocean stream'd in splendour to the
brilliant far-off line :
It was a spacious scene of sea to frame
a little boat.
The topsail lies aback, and aft the large
glazed port-holes shine
Down on the blue, like castle windows
on a flooded moat.
(O gentlemen !) Says Bligh, * What
have I done that this should be .'' '
(O ladies !) ' No more words I ' I cried.
' Choke down your dastard plea !
Avast with you, you tyrant, with your
threats and odious sneers,
I am in hell ! — that is the thing !
I am in hell ! — that is the sting !
Sent there by you, you cruel fiend, who
made us mutineers ! '
40 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
' Huzza, for Otaheite ! ' was the cry we
We sent the boat adrift with Bligh and
eighteen other men.
They went away, the most of them,
white, staring, and half-dazed.
With narrow store of vittles : we
should never meet again.
(O gentlemen !) 'Twas duty, and a
manly spirit bid us :
(O ladies !) did we sin t' avenge the
cruel wrongs he did us ?
Alone in our far exile we discourse of
home with tears.
Then trust your tars as sailormen,
Don't let your captains fail us men.
And hearts of oak you'll find us men.
Not Bounty mutineers.
The Plymouth Buccaneers
From Plymouth Bay we sail'd away
afore a cheerful gale,
Our quarry was the San Paulo, a galleon
of old Spain.
We knew if we fell in with him our
cannon would not fail.
A million pieces of eight, my
And silver — tons in weight, my
In crucifix and altar-piece would prove
our noble gain.
Five hundred stood upon the Hoc to
watch us sailing out,
And whilst our white sails grew aloft
the gallants gave a shout,
And waved their hats and bawled again
and rent the wind with cheers.
Huzza for old Spain's galleon and the
Plymouth Buccaneers !
42 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
From Acapulco was he bound to come
around the Horn ;
And when we sailed the galleon was
three thousand leagues away ;
But steering large we swept in foam,
and on the morrow's morn,
We filled our cans with sack, my boys !
And drank to Spanish Jack, my joys !
The Scilly Isles were far astern and so
was Plymouth Bay.
We swore by paterero, and by swivel
and by saker.
That if we came across * Saint Paul '
we'd founder or we'd take her.
We'd take her though to find her we
should keep the sea for years,
For fiery is the spirit of the Plymouth
With roaring bows and shrieking shrouds
we thundered to the Line,
'Twas Maypole on the village green in
merry England then :
We cut th' Equator May-day, Anno
Says lion-hearted Rice, ' My boys.
He'll be among the ice, my joys,'
PLYMOUTH BUCCANEERS 43
('Twas naught but ' booty and the Don'
at sea among us men)
* When we are stemming southward
where the coast stands white and
They've stout hearts in the Tropiques,
but they're cowards in the cold.
But what'll be their shivers say, and
what'U be their fears
When told the men who lust for 'em
are Plymouth Buccaneers ! '
Whilst northward of the niountain bergs
by ten degrees at least,
Keen daylight flashed the ocean into
lines of brilliant blue —
'Twas Master Rice, our Skipper, who
stood blinking at the east.
Roars out, 'O Jesus ! see my boys !
He's dead upon our lee, my joys !
Hang out your ancient 1 cheerly load !
we'll ply him fast and true !
How like a lordly castle sits the Don
upon the sea 1
Where's room enough for Spaniards
there is room enough tor me.
He marks us and he makes a leg as
slowly off he sheers ;
No, good my lord ! your treasure is
the Plymouth Buccaneers.'
44 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
* Ease off your sheets — the mizzen furl !
a long chase hath begun !
Prepare your stink-pots, hand-grenades,
stack store of pikes at hand !
We'll have him in some hour to-day
'twixt morn and evening sun.
A thousand tons all told, my boys 1
There's millions in his hold, my joys !
By thrice two hundred soldiers, priests
and sailors is he manned.
His cannon peer like heads of snakes
from four score yawning ports.
He's armed with minions, culverins,
and murtherers of all sorts ;
But what say ye, my Plymouth hearts }
do they arouse your fears ?
We have no saints to pray to, but —
we're Plymouth Buccaneers.'
' Now pitch a shot and try the range —
we're closing him amain !
He answers ! and the ill-sped ball
squirts up the yeast abreast !
Now luff and ply him fierce as hail and
fast as thunder-rain —
His flag droops from its peak, my boys!
Its eloquence is weak, my joys !
PLYMOUTH BUCCANEERS 45
Is weak — is spent ! O goodly shot,
the youngest and the best !
And now he rounds in foam of wrath
to bring his guns to bear ;
So ! keep your luff, O courteous Don,
and hold it, if you dare !
You're big, we're small ; we're short,
you're tall ; you'll vex us not by
Our King is not a Spaniard, and we're
We swept right down upon the Don,
his guns their red flames spout ;
The sun was not yet near his bed when
we did range alongside ;
His face was dim behind the smoke as
though his light was out ;
Our blood streamed black on deck,
my boys !
But little did we reck, my joys !
Our hellish blasts had cleared the
heads that showed above his strong
We heard amid the pauses in the roaring
of the guns,
The priests a-singing Aves and the
chantinor of some nuns.
46 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
We pitied those sleek fathers and were
sorrier for their dears,
But booty was our quarry : we were
At five o' th' clock we grappled him —
'twas yard-arm and yard-arm.
His scuppers gush'd in crimson on our
low tormented deck ;
Our belching stink-pots drove his people
forward out of harm
Away into close quarters, boys !
And sheltered thus they fought us
Our boarders charged in wrathfulness
that could not suffer check.
We sprang aloft and from the yards
dropped, fiend-like, on the Spaniard,
Our top sail yard-arm paralleled that
galleon's mighty mainyard ;
And ere the sun had sunk his shield
we'd hurled below with cheers
The last of those who durst oppose the
The Captain of the galleon and four
Had died like men by pike and ball,
and, ere we dredged the hold,
PLYMOUTH BUCCANEERS 47
We buried them with musketry, and
others of that crew
Who perish'd in that fight, my boys !
That lasted till the night, my joys !
We funeral'd with our Plymouth
hearts who number'd ten all told.
But under hatches under guard, we held
the well and wounded.
And piled our hold with treasure till
the cock his clarion sounded.
The moonlight helped our vision, for
the battle-smoke soon clears,
And by the morn the millions were the
When deep our little spunky ship lay
rolling in the sea.
We lifted all the hatches of the castle-
And calling up her sick and well, we
said, ' Senors, you're free
For Mexico again, my boys !
To load afresh for Spain, my joys !
Ye will not meet us here, oh no, for
many a coming moon.'
And thrice we swell'd our tough throats
in the cheers we felt a duty.
One for our ship, one for the Don, the
heartiest for our booty.
48 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Then trim the yards, we fill our cans,
for home our helmsman steers,
With cheers for James our Sov'reign
and the Plymouth Buccaneers.
(The Gibbet on the Sandhills, Deal, 1784)
Along the glimmering Sandhills blows
The salt-damp wind in gusts and moans.
The flying moonlight comes and goes ;
The breakers pour in organ-tones.
Within the dusk beyond the beach,
The billows glance in glow-worm light ;
The sheen as far as eye can reach
Is pale as corpse-lamps in the night.
How like a midnight cemet'ry
Look the dark waters ! in the ray
Ot every pallid crest you see
A gravestone in that surge's play.
An ocean's sob is in the air,
Its cold, dark spirit's on the land ;
The scud makes wild the sudden stare
Of moon upon the hollow sand.
And in that sob and in that chill,
And in the moonlight's flashful freak,
What is the sound that's never still ?
It is the gibbet's chains which creak !
50 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
'Tis there ! the moonshhie touches it !
It dangles twenty-one feet tall ;
Those iron links the dead man fit.
Oh, weather-proof's that funeral pall !
A white clout masks his caged face,
His clothes not yet have dropped in
Knee breeches and a coat of lace.
Buckles — but of the rest what matters ?
Is he more ghastly as he sways
Full-clothed, than when his bleach'd
With keen Nor'-Easters through the
And moonless midnights black and
That man was once a mother's joy.
Her heart danced to his baby mirth ;
What's that up there ? the ghastliest
Death ever grinned at on this earth !
Sure civilisation must be proved !
Some great example must be hit on :
What better in a cause beloved
Than hang in chains a free-born Briton ?
That thing was once a mariner
Who wilfully his vessel lost,
And so the man is dangling there.
Provided for at public cost.
IN CHAINS 51
A starling's nest will warm his ribs,
A carrion-crow will clear the clay ;
What ail'd him ? he told hideous libs,
Insured, then robbed as cast-away.
Stand close ! fear not ! he'll heed you
The moonshine flying makes him leap !
How queer he looks in all his clothing
In airy cage as though asleep !
The ocean's moaning frosts the veins.
And here, a symbol near the sea —
Behold upon the Sandwich plains,
Britannia's Christianity !
But who is slie that comes this way.
Painfully as though life were done ?
At the Dead's foot she kneels to pray !
Hats off! that man there was her son.
Mother and son I who durst condemn !
Christ is our Lord who died for them.
The Man Who Wasn't There
Some things there are you can be
taught, and some you'll never larn ;
As bo'sun of the vessel, why, of course
I knows the yarn.
The reason why I know is, I was through
the whole affair.
The question that I ask is, ' Who's the
man that wasn't there } '
She was a Yankee privateer, the tallest
of her size ;
A schooner of St Malo that had been a
British prize ;
A Yankee frigate took her in a fight
that cost her dear ;
A Philadelphia Quaker sent her out as
Brass cannon made her spicy with their
lights like little suns ;
Her yards and booms and lofty masts
were fit for a thousand tons.
MAN WHO WASN'T THERE 53
Nimble with mighty spread of sail, and
named The Puritan ;
Her quarry on the high seas was the
Why gape you ! 'Cos at Wapping 1
was hatched a bumboat chicken !
Is't because I'm Enfjlish that old
England 1 must stick in !
I'll fight for her and sarve for her for
money and for clothing,
But, damn me if I'll starve for her by
living at home on nothing 1
With England were the States at war
on questions none would shelve ;
The year it was one thousand and eight
hundred and add twelve ;
We were the schooner Puritan^ whose
like was woundy rare,
Whose crew asked one another, * Who's
the man that wasn't there ! '
Our Captain was a long-faced cuss,
peak-cheek'd and yellow skinned ;
He'd pile bad language through his
nose in calm sea or head wind.
He drank raw rum, his toes were
square, he had a beastly manner ;
He called himself a Yankee though he
came from Louisiana.
54 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The Mate was a slab-sided man from
New York City hailing,
His very eyeballs squinted oaths, whilst
rum too, was his failing ;
The Second Mate he drank and swore
more fearful than the others ;
These three men by the crew were
called, 'The Devil's Band of
Indeed we were a drunken and a wicked,
swearing ship :
The Puritan ! a Quaker's sneer at piety
o' th' lip.
One day we chased a brigantine, but lost
her in the gloom ;
The night was full of windy noise, the
dark was of the tomb.
Just as I gained the forecastle a man
came from the wheel :
I says, 'What are you mumbling? are
you sick or howd' yer feel ? '
' Feel ? ' answered he : ' Vy, blindt
me daft, who vould not it o'er-
Py Cot I'se been a-standing mit a
stranger at der helm ? '
MAN WHO WASN'T THERE 55
* Art drunk ! ' says I, ' A stranger ! ha'
yer ne'er a saint t'have prayed to ?
Yer spoke to him?' 'I didn't — '
' Why ? ' * Pecause 1 vas afraid to.'
'The Captain, did you tell him!'
' Ay.' ' What said he — ? sing out
' He kick'd me o' the preech and pawl'd,
"You tam'd infernal liar ! " '
He was a Finn ; we bid him this here
crazy yarn to throttle :
* You've magic,' says us, *in the art oi
keeping full a bottle ;*
But heed us, O you Roosian Finn, if
Finnish frauds you boast.
We'll heave you overboard, my son,
and that'll end your ghost ! '
Now three days later, going aft to see
to something there,
I hears the Mate say to the Captain,
'AVho's that in your chair .'* '
The old man he lets fly ! ' My chair ! '
he yells with face aglow ;
The Mate steps to the skylight and
with square thumb points below.
* Sec Dana's Two Vears before the Mast.
56 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The Captain he puts In his head and
roars out, ' Who's down there ? '
No answer : all Is silence : so he rushes
down the stair.
Then up he comes : ' Why, fire your
soul ! there's no one to be seen ! '
*I can't help that, sir ; if he's gone I'll
take my oath he's been.
* I saw him sitting In your chair, his
face was white and dead ;
His pale eyes followed as I passed, and
then he turned his head.'
The Captain cursed the Chief Mate
who In hideous echo roar'd.
The matter of their quarrel could be
heard by all on board.
It made us sweat to think we sarved a
ship by ghost possessed,
Who'd show himself to one alone whilst
hidden from the rest.
Next day the look-out up aloft where-
from the sea he scanned.
Came down the back stay with a run,
ape-wise hand over hand.
The Second Mate an oath raps out,
'What's there to make you drop.^* '
* A man that you can see through ; did
you guess I was gwine to stop ^ '
MAN WHO WASN'T THERE 57
We look'd ; no man was there ; but
all ne'er doubted it must be him :
'Twas horrible to feel him there : and
yet but one man see him !
Some twenty sailors saw the man before
he came to me ;
'Twas o'er the foc'sle rail I leaned, my
eyes were on the sea ;
'Twas in the second dog-watch and the
breeze was brisk and steady,
Our wake a full league stretched astern,
fan-tail'd in foaming eddy.
When chancing to upturn my gaze,
upon the larboard cathead
A figure sat with marbled eyes and
sand-pale hair all matted.
His face was like a dead-man's face
that comes to you in dreams,
The face that looks a human face but is
not what it seems.
I clearly saw the scarlet evening shining
through his shape.
I thou^rht he wore a doublet slash'd and
over it a cape ;
There broke a meaning from his eyes,
its sense I could not tell ;
Thinks I, as you are not from Heaven,
you're sartainly from Hell.
58 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
' Look ! see him there ? ' I whispers Bill,
and Bill turns to and stares.
* He's on the larboard cathead, Mate !
blue ruin ! how he o-lares ! '
'There's nothing but the cathead there,'
says Bill, 'that I can view.'
'But though he ain't in sio-ht he's ///£■; ^ ! '
said others of the crew.
It vanished as the damp dies out upon
the glass you breathe on :
Such sights would make me holy had I
been a raging heathen.
I said my prayers both morn and night,
and others too v/ere pious ;
But th' old man* still swore horrible,
and called us gory liars.
The last afore the Captain was the
drunken Second Mate,
Whilst drinking in the cabin ; when,
agin him, where he sate
The Figure stood a-watching as it
watched us men afore,
On which the Second Mate yells out,
and rushes throug-h the door.
* The Captain is always called ' the old man ' by
MAN WHO WASN'T THERE 59
A lunatic with terror, and we hoped
he'd break his neck,
He sprang and howled in Bedlam note
about the rolling deck ;
The Captain full o' curses, work'd his
arms just as a mill goes,
Then 'Bosun,' roars he, *jump below
and clap hini in the bilboes ! '
The two Mates now had seen 'un, and
all others of the crew :
Our fierce swashbuckling Skipper still
denied that it was true.
In blue-fire language he declared the
reason of our tunk
Was, 'cos the man as saw the Man was
at that moment drunk.
He says ' Why don't He come to me ?
because I'm never tipsy.
He knows there's no man soberer afloat
upon the deep sea.
A goblin of the punch-bowl, he's a
spectre of the noggin ;
And smite me ! he that sees him next
shall taste a pickled flogging ! '
One morning I was aft with gear, for
turning in a dead-eye.
The sky was quick with darting clouds,
the hands for stations ready ;
6o THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Upon our lee-bow hung a light, as
meteors spin in foam ;
Cloths of a ship of Europe, bound with
studding-sails for home.
With every cracking stitch we swept
just like a white snow squall ;
The yeasty race flash'd, fled and smoked
like foot of waterfall.
The brass guns shone, our tackling
shriek'd, with every gust that
More fiercely did she tear the seas
whilst piped the musick louder.
The Captain took his long spy-glass,
and crossed to the lee rail.
The cream-soft spume fled close
beneath : awhile he watched the sail.
Then turns he for to speak ; but oh !
what sudden change is here ?
His eyeballs strain from out their skull
— he's petrified by fear !
The spy-glass falls upon the deck — his
fingers spread awide.
His cross and narrow stare proclaims
the figure close beside.
MAN WHO WASN'T THERE 6.
'What art thou?' the blasphemer
cries i' the lock-jaw's hollow tone.
*Thy face is pale, thine eyes are dead ;
who sees thee, stands alone ! '
* Christ's mercy 1 ' scream'd he to the
Mate who conned beside the wheel,
'D'ye see him?' 'No, and nor did
you ! but that he's there I feel ! '
' What art thou ? ' yells the Captain :
' I can see the rigging through thee !
Th' horizon rules thy shoulders as a
ratline whilst I view thee,
'Thy face is but a likeness as the ocean
paints the moon,
Thine hair is tangled like the drown'd,
thine eyes are in a swoon !
They're cold — they're dead — they're
jellies like the eyes of par-boil'd
Avast ! Avaunt ! thou damned thing !
tho' straight from Hell or
God! . . .
' What ! gone is it ? why ; being so —
some brandy ! bear a hand !
See how I shiver ! fill the glass ! by
ivhat am I unmann'd ?
62 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
He'll come again ? why, sooner that —
ne'er reckon it a pity —
Up helm ! I'll drop this haunted chase !
trim sail for Boston City ! '
At this a general murmur rose : the
crew, all told, assembled ;
We held a council, many spake ; for th'
old man's life I trembled.
Then aft step some : 'D'ye mind
you jawed of punch-bowl and of
Says you, " The last that see the Man is
in for a pickled flogging."
' Which'll be, to keep at sea and give
us chance of booty.
Or head for Boston and be flogged in
your durned name of duty } '
He understood and scowled at them :
he knew them mostly devils.
' Grant time to think ; I need to
drink to choose 'twixt two such
He goes below and locks his door, mad
horror in him reigns.
'Twas eight bells second dog-watch
when the wretch blew out his
MAN WHO WASN'T THERE 63
Here ends my song : for what is lett 1
doubt if you would care :
Yet let me ask this question : ' Who's
the man that wasn't there ? ' *
* 'Those of his crew who were taken alive told
a story which may appear a little incredible ;
however, we think it will not be fair to omit it,
since we had it from their own Mouths. That
once upon a Cruise they found out, that they had
a Man on board more than their Crew ; such a
one was seen several days among them, sometimes
below, and sometimes on Deck, yet no man in
the Ship could give an Account who he was, or
from whence he came ; but that he disappeared
a little before they were cast away in their great
ship, but, it seems, they verily believed it was the
Devil.' — Capt. Charles Johnson's v^ General History
of the Pyratcs (1726), 4th Ed., vol. i., p. 89.
(To Maroon. An old form of sea-punishment.
A man was set ashore upon a desert island or
uninhabited coast with a musket, ammunition,
and food to last a few days, and left.)
A PLACID sea, a breathing breast,
A wistful blue like a Scotch girl's
Upon the light of her sails, at rest,
A saucy schooner may be seen.
With each soft roll she shows her
Her brasswork sparks in little suns.
The copper, rising to the bends,
A gold light with the brine's blue
Her silk-like sails with shadows
Flash out and fide like a gull's wings
A beautiful and deadly schooner,
Whose flag proclaims that Pyrates
Why lurketh she ancar that isle
Hove to within, say, half a mile ?
The larboard gangway is unshipped and
overboard a boat is hove ;
She breaks the water like a rock — you'd
think that jolly-boat was stove.
* Now tumble in ! ' shouts Captain Skull.
' Give him a musket ! ' is his yell :
' Biscuit, water, powder and ball : then
leave him to enjoy that hell 1 '
That Hell ! at noon heaven's eye of
Stares shadowless upon the island.
The foam-heap'd beach soars high
Where rears the mid-isle's bush-
strown high land.
On coral shore whose sheen is pearl,
Breakers their rainbow-thunder hurl ;
One Mountain lifts a burning cone ;
Clouds rise from it : it stands alone.
'Tis Nature's altar to her Lord,
Who there, with heart of fire's adored.
Prismatic birds there sing and call ;
With madrigals the waterfall
Sweetens all sounds ; and sott de-
Is found in shadows cool as night.
66 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Who sighs not for this Paradise — but
hold ! no human thing is there !
Trees, flowers and sparkhng cataracts
and perfumed dells, gay birds o'
th' air ;
The music of the fanning trees, the
organ-throb of the breaker's roll —
But these things to a lonely man ? can
they suffice a lonely soul !
A fissure's in that coral strand.
Beyond it is a wide ravine.
The surf soars high on either hand.
The water smoothly spreads between.
For that small creek the rowers made.
Fierce, black-hued rogues in heart
With pistol'd belts and tassel'd caps.
Shapes fit for chains and iron wraps.
Their oars strike sun-gold from the
No brutaller fiends e'er crossed the
And with them sat their murdered
Alive, but doomed to an hideous fate.
To live alone, alone to die.
Never a ship to come anigh !
To starve, to groan, O hearts of stone,
through blinding day and moonless
To stare into the distant sea till mad-
ness come with fainting sight !
Such thoughts were in those ruffians'
hearts when now and then they
heard him moan ;
Fiends as they were they could not jeer
and think of him as the^e^ alone !
They left him and he sat him down ;
Beside him were his food and gun ;
He watched them go : his fixed
Was marble as by sculptor done.
Upon the blue the row-boat blurred,
She dwindled till she looked a bird.
Then melted in the schooner's light,
Who trimmed her sails and took to
His eye was on her as she went ;
Like ice-spires with the blue she
Sank, star-like, in the liquid air.
The o-reat Sea circled bright and
68 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
As though of stone he sate and
At the sea-line that writhed around ;
The schooner, like a meteor, dipped and
left the firm rim tenantless ;
Then rose he with heart-shaking sigh
and scowl of wrath and fierce
What was this hapless wretch's crime
which he in this wise must atone ?
He looked aloft — God was not there :
nor in that isle — he was alone !
Of all the Pyrates of his age.
By gallows' height was this wretch
Martel and Bonnet, Teach and Page,
Rackham and others of the Accurst,
Roberts and Briggs, and Smith and
Were kings i' the Rovers' Inferno.
But this man Roger Coate by name.
In frightful crime put all to shame.
In arson, plunder, murder, rape,
In villainy of every shape.
In cruelty beyond men's speech.
Thrice- crowning even Blackbeard
Completest artist then afloat
Was this marooned man, Roger Coate.
He had been Captain of the ship when
Moses Skull had served as mate ;
But Skull had won the crew's regard
and turned their fear of Coate to
' Maroon him ! ' was the cry of all who
swore by Skull and his cross-bone :
And so we find the schooner gone and
Captain Roger Coate alone.
How shocking is the moonlit-deep
Who views it from his island jail !
How terrible the hills which sleep,
The flowers which stand up cold and
If this be to the lonely man,
The honest Selkirk of Ju'an.
Then what the horrors fill the air
When the soul finds that God's not
'Tis Memory's actors throng the
And mouth of now and what hath
Each enters at the devil's nod
For Satan is where there's no God.
70 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
And what stage should the Pyrate's
If not for hell-fired mimicry
Of ravish'd wives and flaming ships, of
murder'd Captain's corpse in water ;
Of cruel plank and smoking hold, of
drink, of booty, lust and slaughter ?
They come to flout in reeling bout, to
leap, to bleed, to drown, to groan —
Wish you joy to the man maroon'd
who's with his goblins all alone.
That ocean gem's his ocean grave ;
His ghosts are with him night and
In nightmares shall the spectres rave,
They'll gibber watching him decay.
They'll act again their purple part :
With teeth of fire they'll chew his
He'll flee them on the coral sand.
They'll fly with him on either hand.
He'll seek the cloisters of the brake
And find them waiting, wide awake.
They'll chase him to the dizzy steep
But th' heroic murderer durst not
They'll shriek with laughter when he
And chew his heart and pick his
In thunder, gale, and bellowing sea,
he'll hear the Spirits of the Past.
In peace or storm each goblin plays the
hideous part for which he's cast.
His skeleton by sailors found shall
never make his story known,
How frightful was that beauteous isle,
how horrible his life alone.
The derelict, the water-logged, forsaken
ship at sea,
Floats symbol-wise ; the ocean's desola-
tion is her own.
No spirit of beauty visits her, I care not
in what key,
The abandoned ship subdues the strain
to her lamenting tone.
She's silvered by the moonlight, and
she's gilded by the sun.
She rolls touched into amber by the
hectic of the west.
She shapes herself in ivory when flames
the Orient gun.
She's phantom-like in starlight when by
midnight winds caressed
Oh grand's the line of battle ship, the
frigate swells in white.
The Indiaman is lofty and the schooner's
sweetly clad ;
The Thames barge stems with triumph
when in painted cloth bedight ;
But even when set in Beauty's foil, the
abandoned ship is sad.
The deck was hail'd one morning watch ;
our ship was a South Spainer ;
Old Jack, bawls down, 'There's some-
thing black two points before the
The day had broken bright and calm,
and soon we saw her plainer,
A black, soaked, wallowing lumpish
hulk, fast sinking did she seem.
We bore right down upon the
wreck, and then we backed our
tor 'sail ;
Our Captain works his spy-glass with
the hope to do some good,
She'd not a rag of cloth on her save
just a strip of foresail,
Which signalled like a live man's
weft* from the only mast that
Her glistening shrouds snaked gliding
from the channels to the raffle
That rose and fell alongside in an
hideous sea-ragout :
To paint her would an artist (let alone
a sailor) baffle.
'Twas like a lump of buffalo hump in
a country wallah's stew.
* Or waft. A signal of distress. A flag tied
in the middle, like a gamp umbrella, and hoisted.
74 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
A wolf-like dog was howling on the
rolling round-house top —
A wail for help more sorrowful the
human throat ne'er swelled ;
Sometimes he'd lift his nose as asking
water, yea, one drop,
Then barked he in a husky note which
human anguish held.
'There's nothing else alive that I can
see,' says Captain Tong ;
' But take the boat and search her, for
she's bound to tell some tale.
She's drowned ; but overhaul what's
dry, then bring that dog along.
Did ever dog raise such a cry ? It's
like a woman's wail.'
The boat was launch'd, the mate and
three go in her to the wreck ;
The dog's howl ceased, the hulk lies
still — for help that swept thing
The mate and two the main-chains gain,
and leap upon the deck.
The dog springs from the round-house
to the round-house door and whines.
And what a whine was his ? You'd
swear a woman's scream was in it.
The mate first sought for water, but
the dog refused a sip ;
It whined again a fierce appeal — Mate
Cock says in a minute,
' 1 understand,' and follows to the cabin
of the ship.
The round-house formed a cabin, and
two bedrooms flanked the door ;
The dog runs to the larboard one ;
what meets the mate his eyes ?
The bodies of a woman and a baby on
the floor ;
The dog sniffs at the baby and the
baby faintly cries.
' Now bear a hand ! this infant take and
pass into the boat.
'The mother's dead as is this ship.
Are more alive aboard ? '
' None fore nor aft ! ' ' Well, cheerly
now 1 this hulk can scarcely float.
' In with the dog ! off for our lives ! '
was the order Mate Cock roar'd.
The baby was a little boy of sixteen
His eyes were blue, his hair was gold,
his flesh as white as foam ;
His three teeth gleam'd like almonds
in his cherry-coloured pout,
His innocence aboard us made the ship
a dream of home.
76 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The dog would never leave his side ;
that gaunt wolf-shape (all rib)
Would go with him when carried, and
would watch by him on deck ;
And all night long, with one eye closed,
he'd lie beside the crib
We made for little baby when we
brought him from the wreck.
We dressed him as a sailor, and we
called him Beauty Tong ;
Our skipper, an old bach'lor, said the
child should be his son ;
But as an ocean-orphan to us Jacks did
he belong :
We held our rights in baby were the
rights of everyone.
'Twas thus we nursed him turn about,
now Captain, Mate, or Man :
And every sailor took his part in this
We made him clothes, we made him
toys, we did what soft hearts can,
And none but would have died for him
for love of little Beauty.
What nosegays are in prison-cell, cold
founts in desert sands ;
The blackbird's song in gloomy courts,
the kiss of sleep in pain.
The hope in Christ when lov'd ones
die, the rain in sun-scorched lands,
Was he to us who worked ship through
the waters of South Spain.
The sailor-man though of a crew is
lonely when at sea.
His watch is lone, he steers alone, his
shipmates sleep or sew ;
In watch on deck he's kept at work
and silent all must be,
'Tis hammock or the choking meal
when he is piped below.
So it befell, this child was as a star that
lights the night
In dull and wearing labours of our
year-long ocean strife.
He shone on our hearts' compass-card
so that we read it right.
To love a child's to love the truth and
all God loves in life.
And yet ! oh, it must happen ! was
that dog of steadfast heart
God's prophet whilst he kept watch by
our little Beauty's bed ?
He whined throughout the hours one
night as knowing they must part.
And in the dawn the Captain looked
and found our darling dead.
78 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Then was there grieving in our ship :
our little company-
Had lost their star, their compass-card,
their pure and only joy :
The sanctity of death and grief was in
that ship at sea.
Oh think ! who made us men in heart
was but a baby boy !
Of sail-cloth, with a round shot, was
our baby's wool-white shroud ;
Each sailor took a toy of his and kept
it for his sake.
The body at the gangway made the
roughest sob aloud.
No flowers had we, but garlands wrought
of foam-wreaths in our wake.
It blew a pleasant breeze, the sails like
shells prismatic stand.
Cool melodies of fountains float on
either side the ship.
The dog the body watches, scarce a
sailor but's unmann'd,
The Captain reads the prayers out with
moist eye and quivering lip.
The white-robed burden glances from
the seaman's tilted plank,
Instant the dog leaps after it ! ' Down
helium ! ' the Captain cries.
That ribb'd shape had not sprang to
swim — stone-like that arcat heart
Are men as loyal as was this dog, when
friend or sweetheart dies ?
Oh, be the children dear to us, for
they're of heaven above,
And let the faithful dog be dear, the
friend of every one.
The children bring from God their
home the pledge of endless love,
The dog will live and die with you
when human love is done.
The Middle Passage
The hot sea sheeting to its rim is like
a plain of yellow grease ;
Its surface swarms with sheen of oil
which coils and swells with ghostly-
That sullen bosom is not rest ; that fiery
stillness is not peace !
The terror of the earthquake's shock
sleeps in that scene of Tropic ocean.
The confines steam in sweat of heat, the
sky looks down with brassy stare ;
The pale sun in the water hangs a
lemon's image under him ;
The Spirit of Life is breathless 'neath those
heights of soundless thunder there ;
Forms phantom-like as shapes in dreams
glare out, then sulkily grow dim.
No breath of God that jelly breast gives
life to in a fleeting twinkle ;
It seem'd as hell had belch'd a flame
which, gone, had left the sea aghast.
THE MIDDLE PASSAGE 8i
The wail half-moon lay like a scar, upon
the sky a dry pale wrinkle ;
The shark's wet lifted fin scarce shines
before its sudden lightning's passed.
Centred within that fire-fed zone a
schooner floats, a gracious form.
Long, keen, low, black, a clipper bow,
sheath'd to the bends with yellow
Vast pinions for the Doldrums' sigh or
for the blast of ocean's storm,
Swift as a stag or Arab steed to chase,
to fly, to lose or get all.
The schooner was the Laughing Girl^ a
slaver own'd in Liverpool ;
She carried eighteen carronades, a bow
and one sternchaser, too ;
Her scantling was of fortress-strength,
a gallant ship the waves to rule.
But oh ! God's love ! contrast her with
the meaning of the flag she flew !
Now as she roasting floated, on her
decks of almond whiteness paced
Her Captain (Williams) and Mate Jones,
whilst forward on the foc'sle-head,
Her sailors loll'd in shade of sail — the
furnace-heat could not be faced.
Although that eye of flame above was
rayless like a sun that's dead.
82 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
*Blow, blow, you sweet winds, where
are ye ? ' cries Captain Williams to
his mate ;
^ This is the mill-horse round of life ;
and where'll you find the sea-line
'Tis cockroach all and footy grease : it
isn't hotter at hell's gate ;
And hark ! the wailing through the
gratings — hangels themselves can't
please the nigger.'
* Six hundred,' says the bull-faced mate,
' makes hishee-hashee fit for stewin ' !
So 'elp me ! if they're not fetched up to
breathe, in gangs, an hour of air,
Two-thirds 'uU perish and the rest will
mean the mate's and master's ruin.
Hark to their groans ! the children's
cries are almost more than I can
* Avast, you tallow liver'd swab ! ' cried
Captain Williams, fierce and yellow,
* Are slaving men young ladies, ha ?
Turn to and blow a galleon's breeze !
Belay your sentimental whine : we'll
clap a choke on yelp and bellow ;
THE MIDDLE PASSAGE 83
The wind that gives the schooner legs
shall bring those yawling black
But what is that ? see West-Sou'-West !
the sea-line's blue, the air is
* A sail ! A beam ! ' our forecastle hails ;
* I see her like a star there growing !
She brings the wind — 'tis blue ahead !
what is the road the stranger's
A man-of-war ? you lily heart ! oh ! if
you durst say //w/, not knowing — ! '
To wind'ard in a broadening path ot
blue and splendour hung the star ;
The sea was sweet with dainty lace in
every ripple's nimble head.
The brassy veil stream'd off the sun,
the girdle shone glass-clear afar.
You thought of the sudden scene of life
when Christ shall judge the Quick
The stranger now had rais'd her hull, her
growth of canvas proved her pace ;
How proud aloft in height of hoist !
her larboard studding sails were set ;
84 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The white foam sprang in snow and
gold, and frolick'd to the counter's
The Captain of tne slaver says * yf -SnVijA
twenty gun corvette ! '
* Hell's thunder ! Do you see her flag ?
the halliards arch beyond the leach ;
We'll show no colours ! Here's the
breeze ! Up helm, and off for life
or death !
Ease, nimbly, ease ! how doth she spin 1
the corvette yaws — flames red in
A gun !. the round ball drops astern.
So, curse you, waste your hated
Now luff ! how bend the loaded masts !
huzza ! the bright brine leaps the
Load to the muzzle — take good aim —
• those bolts proclaim our caliber.
The devil choke those howls below !
. . . why, twenty she could we
And shall the schooner, Laughing Girl,
be taken by the like o^ her?'
THE MIDDLE PASSAGE 85
Now when the Slaver haul'd the wind the
corvette put her hehn down too :
Took, in her stunsails, tried the range ;
then one by one five cannon blazed. '
'Twas breezing up, the weather-seaboard
thick with ebony wet cloud grew ;
The straining schooner flashes on, a
sentient thing by fear half-crazed.
Again, again her cannon belch, and silk-
white clouds sweep through her
In cataracts the crystals roar in snow-
soft spume and shrieking streams.
And midst the warring din of guns, the
sailors' shouts, the freshening blasts.
You hear the agony below in men's
deep moans and women's screams.
* We'll thrash her hull down 'ere 'tis
gloom, and lose her when it comes
Stand firm ye spars, good tacks, stout
sheets ! the joke i? his whp last
hath laughed !
Cease firing ! up preventer stays ! rowse
aft each sheet, bowse taut each tack :
So ! all is well ! now luff a point ; she's
square-rigged, "oce are fore and att !
86 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
May fire consume those blacks below !
they sink in hell a deeper hell !
We'll trail a long gun through the hatch
and silence 'em by help of langridge.
The corvette's lungs are in her guns ;
the slaver's heels our rhetoric tell !
Those screeching black owls in the hold
shall hear us speak the corvette's
To larboard the Avenger hangs ; the
wind amain takes tempest-weight ;
She rages through each boiling trough,
mad as a struck whale crimson-
In the fresh breeze that bows her down
the slaving schooner hears her fate ;
'Tis shrilled in shrouds, 'tis drummed
in sail, 'tis hideous in the negroes'
The lightning leaps, the thunder roars,
the corvette tops a bursting sea.
Her side flames in a line of fire — the
tempest storms — the black bolt
The pale shape of the Laughing Girl has
vanished on the corvette's lee.
And nothing but a mastless hulk rides,
foam-swept, to her ruined heights !
THE MIDDLE PASSAGE 87
That broadside was the hand of God :
it swept the masts clean overboard :
It killed the Captain and five men, and
left the Laughing Girl a raft.
The corvette stood by all that night,
for through the ni":ht the ocean
The morn disclosed //tr still full-rigged :
but where was she^ the fore and aft ?
A black length gleaming in the swirl :
a few whites clinmno; here and there :
Vollies of smoking crystals hurled
volcanic from the mountain waves 1
'Twas not before the afternoon that even
those British hearts would dare
To face that hollow sea and board the
Laughing Girl to free the slaves.
O pitying heart of Christ ! what scene of
horror ever match'd that hold !
They raised the hatch and fell away,
vomiting, from the putrid air :
And faint and far came up the groan ot
human beings of God's mould :
So soaked in human sweat the haze, at
first they saw not what was there.
88 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Six hundred made that Slaver's freight :
they found but thirty-seven alive ;
'Twas like the well of a fishing-smack,
thick-laden with dead mackerel ;
Women and children all lay choked,
the lustiest blacks alone survive.
Dear God ! that men should work for
men more anguish than is found
But glory to the Crimson Cross : Star
of the Slave where'er it glows.
Schooner or junk, or Arab dhow, when
that flag comes the Slaver goes.
If we began this trade in man then this
we own by land and sea,
No matter how you read your laws,
where Britain's flag flies there
man's free !
Dance's Tea-Fight— 1804
('To prevent all thought among my men of
surrendering ye shippe and make ym desperate,
I nailed the ensigne to the staft' from head to foot,
stapled and fore-cockt the ensigne staff fast up. I
resolved to part with shippe and life together.' —
Extract from Log of Hon. E. I. Co's ship
A Sailor Sings
Did you ever hear tell of old Com-
Who frighten'd Linois' heavy war-
ships of France ?
Over the sea, full of bohea.
Silk worth in fathoms whole lakhs
Curios in ivory, cages of cockatoo.
Monkeys so ill-bred they gibber and
mock at you.
Turban'd Hindoo, chairs of bamboo.
Calicos, dimities, groceries too ;
Hubble-hubbles and curry for greasy
90 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Christian and Musselman, Parsee
Here was a bag for that canny Mossoo !
Indigo, capsicum, joss from John's
China plate, silver birds strutting on
Masks and fans, pots and pans
Camphor and betel to make the
teeth shine ;
Birds'-nests for soup-drinkers, puppies
Skulls for museums, all grinning and
Nankeen, musk, arrack, dried apples
Malt and spruce essence to flavour
Never again would Crapeau get the
He had when invited to drink tea
THE PLEASANT BALLAD
'Twas early in the morning on the
North Pacific Ocean ;
A fleet of lofty Indiamen were coming
DANCE'S TEA-FIGHT Qt
They slowly swayed, like snow-crown'd
bergs, in soft majestic motion
As though a quaint and solemn noise
of musick led them on.
Their royals were stowed, but still they
rear'd a tower from each course ;
In every open porthole grinned a
dangerous British gun.
I should not love to be the foe who
fouled athwart their hawse.
Whose fathers were the seamen that
our mighty Empire won.
Sinsf honour to the Commodore com-
manding the Earl Camden !
What cared he for the Squadron but to
mutter, ' They be d d, then } *
What heeded M^arleys^ Alfred^ s^ Ganges
hearts and all the others
Who were as were Lord Nelson's men,
' A Noble Band of Brothers ' }
So beat to quarters ! sound the drum !
and wish that squadron joy.
Who hoped to capture Dance for
France through Admiral Linois.
'Twas seen that Pura Auro bore exactly
West South West,
When Royal George made a signal of
four strange craft French in rig
92 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Our ships were sixteen Indiamen, and
of our fleet the rest
Were Country Wallahs, forming thirty-
nine sail and a brig.
The sea looks full of stately craft, each
bright breast fills with lightning
The blue profound beneath the hulls
whose bands with ordnance gape.
The clouds hang in the sky like frost,
the dim sea-line is whitening,
A delicate film o'erspreads the course
our China galleons shape.
The Captains pace in cocked hat, with
side arms and buttons beaming.
Buff waistcoat and buff breeches, with
some gold embroidery gleaming ;
Blue coat lapell'd with velvet and square
shoes whose buckles glow
All giving life and colour to a spacious
Why should the lurking enemy our
peaceful ships annoy .''
And shall you capture Dance for France ?
We guess you won't, Linois !
The squadron was a Gallican, one
Marengo flying Linois' flag ; the others
DANCE'S TEA FIGHT 93
La Belle Poule^ and the Semillante^ and
one black brijx of war :
Twice ninety-four great cannon told the
metal they could throw.
Dance eye'd them through his telescope,
then up a signal ran,
To Kyi George^ Bombay CastU\ HopL\
and Alfred to go near.
All fighting crews at quarters, and to
The nature of that squadron, what it
meant by being here.
The Frenchmen crept to wind'ard,
vague and doubtful how to act,
The Com'dore flew fresh signals and
our China galleons tacked.
But now that Indian afternoon was
saddening into night :
Your Frenchmen are no cowards,
but those Frenchmen would not
Our battle-lanterns through the dark
glowed wooingly enough,
But Monsieur kept his distance and he
also kept his luff.
Quoi^ Messiems ? fear mere merchant-
men, in ships of war, ma foy !
Not bound to France just yet
was Dance, at least with you,
94 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The morning sun the French reveal'd,
topgallant leaches shivering ;
The reef-points fringed their tops'ls
like gold hair on beauty's brow.
The early splendour lanced with fire
the sea and held it quivering ;
Our league-long fleet stemmed stately
on the enemy's lee bow.
At each gaff-end to wind'ard now the
flag of France is flown,
And in reply our halliards hoist
Britannia's blue and red ;
'Twas fit the symbol of the great
Adventurers should be shown,
For if the v/hite flag fight for us, by
red Jack is it fed.
Stand to your guns, my hearts of oak !
He's heading to attack us !
He'll find rich freight in plenty if his
purpose is to sack us !
Round with the yards ! lee brace let
go ! fire-blast him with hot spirit !
In England's name we'll never shame
the blood we men inherit !
The French ships roared with thunder-
bolts, red lightnings burst and burn,
The Royal George is their target and some
other ships astern.
DANCE'S TEA-FIGHT 95
To fighting Englishmen at sea their
life is but a toy ;
Our cannon's blast meant France for
Dance, not Dance for France, Linois.
"Within an hour the Frenchman ceased
to fire and haul'd the wind,
Fled with a feather in his lip instead of
in his cap.*
He seemed to want for nothing but to
leave our fleet behind ;
'Twas just the same at Moscow and at
Waterloo with Nap.
On this Eiirl Camden s heights glow
with the signal ' General chase ! '
Hip for the Country Wallahs' hearts !
for even ///<?)' join in !
We sprang about, true livelies ! was it
not a glorious race .''
We haul'd and damned and trimmed
and crammed — 'twas Dance not
France must win !
The Frenchmen swept and wallowed ;
and we wallowed too, but followed ;
We fired until we tired, but the foe
could not be collared.
* ' Here she comes with a feather in her lip ! '
— Old sea-saying.
96 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
' On ! on ! ' bawled Dance in bunting and
each tor'sail strained to cracking ;
'Twas not for want of seamanship, 'twas
swiftness that was lacking.
Our round bows burst in rainbows and
our wake spread like a fan ;
dignified and beautiful, but slow —
We press'd on to the evening, then,
ah ! the keen annoy !
France fled from Dance, Dance gave up
France and with her M. Linois.
Now isn't this a rattling yarn about our
1 hope they'll always act at sea well as
they acted then.
But sow the seed and nurse the Breed !
without Jack Muck's Marine
You're helpless as a warship with an
A day's at hand may come a King to
make old France our joy.
But th' Indiaman will then have passed
the same as old Linois.
The Ballad of Peter Serrano
(As recited by Garcilasso do la \'ega, and
included in the old Collections of Shipwrecks ;
and as it was related by Peter Serrano to the
Emperor Charles V. of Germany, and King of
Spain (i 500-1 558) 'all which time he nourished
his hair and beard, to serve as evidence and proof
of his past life.' — Duncan's Mariner^ s Chronicle.)
Garcilasso de la Vega ! we'll recall
the sailor's bow
When growling through an A'-je or a
His sword-hilt was a holy cross to fright
the circlino; demon ;
How pious Garcilasso de la Vega was
your seaman !
Beelzebub, la Vega, sends the ocean's
'Tis Lucifer makes the Rainbow South
the Line the same as North ;
But tell, who salts the South Sea with
the salt of the Atlantic ?
And tell, who's impious semblanceb
drive Spanish sailors frantic ?
98 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Plunge hand into that fire-ball which
floats at thy yardarm :
It scorcheth not ? a flaming thing !
whence comes its hellish charm ?
Look o'er the side — a fat man swims !
with lickerish eye he'll wink !
'Twill cost an Agnus Dei to compel
that man to sink.
Th' Enchanted Island draws the ship
with viewless chains of magic,
And if no holy priest's aboard the
carrack's fate is tragic.
The fire that leaps alongside's from the
Sulphur Lake below ;
'Tis Satan spins you water-holes to
show the road to go.
But for such sweatful terrors ye've the
Litany and Ave^
The Pater Noster, Credo, and thine heart's
cry in Peccavi !
But what's the power you read of
in great Charles the Fifth, his
What but the sea could make God's
mould so pitiful as Serrano ?
BALLAD OF PETER SERRANO 99
Three little sand-isles blink upon a
surface shot with pearl ;
They twinkle like the heart-throb in
the white wrist of a girl ;
When tempests make the seas roar
to the storm -god's shrieking
The glares those islands, quivering, dart
are like the lightning's flash.
A carrack with fore-topmast gone rolled
on the sulky heave,
Her scuppers spouting brilliant brine
proclaim her hull a sieve ;
Within a mile the sand-isles shine like
moons upon the blue.
Her drift is sure — the water chains —
what shall her Captain do ?
With sudden roar the ship blows up !
sinks with an hundred lives !
La Vega, 'tis Serrano who alone that
With frog-like legs he struck the sand
and waded through the surf;
No sight had he of bush or tree or
guinea-grass or turf;
loo THE FATHER OF THE SEA
A blinding eye of brilliant sand whose
lids are formed of foam ;
No shelter from the vertic sun, no
cavern for a home.
He stood him up, this Peter, and the
ocean he explored ;
The raft-flat island brought the sea-
line very close aboard.
Now here, now there, a piece of blackened
timber rose and fell.
Or a red patch where sharks fed,
stain'd the glass-smooth slope of
Where are your isles, Serrano ? where
were drown'd the carrack's crew ?
La Vega maketh answer : 'Off the
north coast of Peru.'
No loneliness could equal his : the sea
was at his throat ;
He had no hut — no food — no drink —
no wood to make a boat.
He found some brackish water here
and there in a sandy breast :
He groped for shrimps and cockles,
and he gorged them all un-
BALLAD OF PETER SERRANO loi
The sun sank in a glorious shield which
filled the western sky,
'Twas big as three times twenty suns
to that lorn sailor's eye.
But scarcely was the fire-rim gone when
from the east sprang night,
Her velvet mantle flown with stars, her
moon's horn full of light.
Now from the night sinks Solitude
upon Serrano's sand,
And spectres of the carrack's crew walk
pass'd on either hand.
They rise up from the wan foam where
the surf is making moan,
And never doth one turn his head, but
stalks as though alone.
The weaving fingers of the dusk then
conjure up a ship ;
Serrano starts — the phantom fades — the
cry dies on his lip.
O Queen of Heaven ! it is those cheats
of fountain, sail and beach
Which break the heart with images no
keel nor oar can reach.
Of that first night, la Vega, yea thy
wondrous verse hath spoken.
But of Serrano's goblin-fears I find in
thee no token.
102 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Those eyes of fire above him ! and
those whispers in the air !
That fitful flash of phosphor ! and that
drowned man's rooted stare !
That sobbing in the shadow ! and that
scream of midnight bird !
The spectre that is seen not ! and the
voice that's never heard !
The slumber of the dark moon in the
bright arm of her horn !
The wheeling of the planets and the
mystery of the dawn !
The charnel evocation by the moist
smell of black weed !
The dark imaginations of a goblin-
haunted creed !
La Vega ! is there ever from St Peter
A saint could rescue from the sea that
sailor-man Serrano ?
He needs a fire to make a smoke for
passing ships to mark ;
He dives and finds two pebbles, and
his knife chips out a spark.
BALLAD OF PETER SERRANO 103
He dries sea-weed tor fuel and with
threads of shirt makes tinder ;
La Vega ! tell what obstacles could this
Serrano hinder ?
He spies some turtle, cuts their throat,
drinks deep in what they welter.
He eats their flesh and with their
armour builds himself a shelter.
The sun hangs o'er him every noon,
his clothes fall from his back ;
He walks about, a naked man, his
yellow skin turns black.
Thick bristles clothe his leathern flesh,
as stifle as horns of rams.
His beard pours down below his knees,
his hair conceals his hams.
Man swings as true to self as to the
north the card on gimbals,
In suffering he is loud in prayer and
gorgeous, too, in symbols.
To saints he bows, to heaven he vows ;
to remedy his evil,
He keeps his flesh, forswears the
world, and prays against the devil.
But Senor de la Vega, I do pray thee
name to me
The saint whose will can cure or kill
like him they call the sea .''
I04 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Is there a Power could mould God's
clay born in the shape of man, oh !
Subduing the soul, as did the sea, t'
inform that old Serrano ?
In twelve revolving moons he is a
prodigy out of Nature :
A scaly, hair-robed, bristling fish, a
How looketh he in thrice twelve moons,
when one dim dawn he spied
Upon his isle a lonely man close to
the water-side ?
He stood amazed ! transfixt with fear !
what ; Satan ? who but he ?
The other turn'd, saw Peter — shriek'd
and made as though to flee.
' Aroint thee ! ' screams Serrano ; bawls
the other, * What's thy breed ? '
' Avoid ! avoid ! ' yells Peter, and
begins the Apostles' Creed.
^ Et Verbum cato factum est'' . . . the
stranger he began :
' Art truly man } ' asks Peter — * 'Slife !
what other thins: than man ? '
On this into each other's arms they
rush'd and Peter's shape
Made t'other look as though a man
was throttling a black ape.
BALLAD OF PETER SERRANO 105
The stranger proved a Spaniard : by
a plank the sand he gained.
With water and some calipash this
guest was entertained.
A shipwreckt man as Peter was, but
Peter had this curse,
A sailor, he'd been changed to fish
with bristles, scales and worse.
The Spaniard looked him o'er and
o'er, and Peter he stared back ;
The Spaniard's skin was yellow, and
Serrano's flesh was black.
The Spaniard wore some clothing, and
Serrano's coat was bristle ;
His hosier was the hair that draped
him, skin and bone and gristle.
He was indeed a fountain gushing
hair from head to knee :
His guest could scarcely swallow food,
so horrified was he.
But time on sandy islets is the time ot
towns which teem :
Each actor is a shadow, and the drama
is a dream.
io6 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
This thief of human life soon stript
the Spaniard to the skin,
If Peter looked like Satan sure the
Spaniard looked like Sin.
His hair spread out around his waist,
his eye-lash almost blinded.
Quoth Peter, * Man, your skin is blue,
'twill soon turn black as mine did.'
Scales swarmed as doth the cockle, but
our Peter nourished bristles,
Whilst t'other grew a crop of things
that looked like inland thistles.
Now were these men a marvellous pair
and strangely like each other ;
Our Peter look'd like Satan and the
Spaniard like his brother.
But though the Sea may rob a man of
clothes and shift his fashions.
She has no influence o'er the soul in
changing human passions ;
Thy story, Garcilasso de la Vega points
this moral ;
Conceive ye that these bristlers fell
asunder through a quarrel .''
Both homeless and forsaken, they were
naked cast-aways :
Their fear was that upon this isle they'd
hideously end their days.
BALLAD OF PETER SERRANO 107
They wrangled o'er a turtle-steak !
with hot blood filled with hate,
They fell to blows, and loud with oaths,
swore to live separate !
'Tis law among the sages that all
wisdom is expedience :
To which, O Garcilasso, every man
must yield obedience.
A long week held these men apart
through a week's freakful weather.
Then each the other wanted and the
bristlers came together !
The months pass, oh, the months pass,
and a ship floats into sight :
The smoke o' the frenzied castaways
soars to a towering height ;
The ship stems in on square wings and
she sends a boat ashore ;
But when the crew the lorn men see
they hang upon the oar.
'Who he they .''... Are ye demons } '
then they shout with straining eyes ;
* We're Christians ! ' bawls Serrano, and
they both chant litanies.
' Oh hear us speak the Credo — -judge us
not by what we wear ! '
' Men are ye ?' quo' the steersman, ' Or
sea-goblins made ot hair ? '
io8 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
They crossed themselves with frantic zeal,
and both kept yelling * Save me ! '
The Spaniard sang a holy dirge, Serrano
raved an Ave :
They dance and kneel, with sobs appeal ;
' D'ye call them monsters human ? '
The bowman says, * If so, who's here to
swear he's born of v/oman ? '
But fear must yield to pity ; says the
helmsman, * If so be
You're truly what ye say ye are, then
come along with me ! '
Serrano and the Spaniard both wade in
and climb aboard ;
The crew admired that they should
kneel at once and thank the Lord.
La Vega's tale is ended : first, the
bristly Spaniard dies,
In Spain arrives Serrano, very sad and
He's sad by stress of memory, he's
wise by stress of bread.
He farms his beard and bristles, and
with oil manures his head.
Forth goes his fame before him, people
flock from near and far,
The Emperor Charles endows him
and he dies at Panama.
BALLAD OF PETER SERRANO 109
The barbers and wig-makers in Old
Spain in Charles' Anno,
Would flout the bald and woman-
jowled by speaking of Serrano ;
* D'ye seek your hair should grow,'
they said, ' for dyes of every hue ?
Then get ye shipwreckt, senors, off
the north coast of Peru.'
' The London ' Privateer
[The London was an out-and-out pirate of the
Black Flag ; but the Songster politely speaks of her
as a letter-of-marque.)
The schooner was a privateer known all
wheres as The London ;
The merchantman that she pursued was
nearly always run down :
Her crew were ninety fighting sailors
led by Captain Rokeshill,
She mounted swivels, carronades, and
Long Tom on the fo'csle.
Her masts were tall, her fore yards
square, her sails cut to a tee,
O like a ship of magic art, and milk-
white foam was she.
Her captain was a gentleman
Of goodly quality,
Whose noble blood and scutcheon ran
Through books of heraldry.
His eyes were dark, of pensive light.
Sad as with years of study ;
His teeth were like the apple-white
Seen through the peel that's ruddy.
* THE LONDON ' PRIVATEER 1 1 r
He was a well-bred gentleman of lion-
heart and spirit,
Young, handsome, proud and manly
with such charm as men inherit.
He had no wife nor family to cause
him joy or fear.
And such was Captain Rokeshill of The
A Convoy home was coming from the
Indies of the West.
No man-of-war was then afloat The
London could not best ;
In running or close-haul'd or with
a spanking wind abeam
She flash'd and fled like flakes of froth
upon a river's stream.
To hover on the Convoy's skirts and
watch with tireless eyes ;
To cut ofi^ some rich lagging craft and
make of her a prize :
This was the meaning of the course
Set at the Channel's mouth ;
Full West would be our next resource
When we had sail'd full South.
First run your latitude adown.
The longitude then try ;
And so you'll fetch your Port or Town
112 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
We swept the Channel bows in froth
and fled along the seaboard,
We needed not to 'bout ship for a
weather or a lee board.
The white race spun and spat astern to
the sea-line keen and clear ;
Our shrouds sang madrigals aboard
The London^ privateer
We cut th' Antillean parallel and clapt
the helm aweather ;
Her keen lip, as her side flash'd, wore
the foam-curl of a feather.
Until one morn there fell upon our
ship a burnished calm,
Which after days of high seas won the
fancy like a psalm.
The sun, small as the moon, hung as
a lemon dim on high ;
The ocean gleam'd like silk to where it
melted in the sky.
At each masthead keeps watch a man,
A spy-glass round his neck ;
Tlie tarnish'd distances to scan.
Eager to hail the deck.
The haze hangs like the dusty veils
Of cobwebs in old rooms,
And still the rayless red sun fails
In the heat through which he looms.
•THE LONDON,' PRIVATEER , ,3
Sudden a cry falls from on high : ' A
sail ! broad on the bow !
One — two — three — four ! I count no
more — five — six ! — I see 'em now !
They seem to ooze li ke cloud-shapes from
the dimness whence they steer —
Seven — eight — nine — ten ! Huzza,
men, for The London^ privateer ! '
Says the Captain * They're the Convoy,
lads, of that we need not doubt ;
A liner and three frigates and one brig
I can make out.
The wind that they are bringing comes
ahead of them with ease ;
Stand by to trim the canvas when we
catch that sparkling breeze.
There's nothing there to fright us whilst
we keep well out of range :
Our conduct must be order'd so they
find us nothing strange.'
And as he spoke the fiery air
Gush'd full, and down she lay ;
She hung like something breathless there,
Then hissing, swept away.
How gracious was her gift of speed !
What king's ship could attach her !
O swifter than the Arabian steed,
No albatross could match her.
114 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
A gun ! What's that ? A cry to halt ?
A halt would mean a halter !
No, Madam Frigate, spare your shot :
not you shall make us falter.
Haul out, then, will ye, after us ! Tut !
Hear'st not thou our jeer ?
Heed well your Convoy — one we want
for The London, privateer.
The shadow of the evening brought a
curl of silver moon ;
The frigate did not chase us long, in
truth she dropped us soon.
As idle to pursue o'er fields the shadow
of a cloud.
She sent a Parthian shot and then re-
joined the leeward crowd.
When well below the sea-line, but still
holding them in sight.
We piped to grog and entered on the
duties of the night,
'Twas morning watch, about one bell,
The wind began to roar :
' I fear this weather smells of hell
To those who aren't ashore..
'Twill scatter sure the whole Convoy,'
Said Rokeshill without glee,
* I heartily wish the King's ships joy
If one ship's left for me.'
•THE LONDON,' PRIVATEER 115
It blew a hurricane that day, and nothing
could be done,
But house the topmasts,' hand all sail,
secure the guns and run.
God knows how many leagues we sped
in sober honest fear ;
'Twas like all hands had foundered in
The London^ privateer.
What next befell I now must tell — 'ti
curious, choice and odd :
And proves that even privateers may
put some trust in God.
The clouds broke loose, the blue sky
shone, as lakes do on the land ;
The lumpish waters met in shocks,
being under no command.
The smell of weed was coarse like
dressing fish in a caboose.
The leaden swell looked muddy as
though thickened from the ooze.
When broad upon the larboard beam,
about a mile in span,
A gallant ship lay wallowing, a big
Her mizzen-mast was o'er the side.
Gone were her long jibbooms ;
The storm had stript her of all pride,
Almost a wreck she looms.
ii6 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
* She's of the Convoy — left behind ! '
Cries Captain Rokeshill ! ' Speak her !'
' Ho, ship ahoy ! ' ' She's dumb and
Quick, ere a frigate seek her ! '
We put our helm to starboard and the
seamen went to quarters.
All ready for a nimble run in case a
frigate sought us ;
When lo ! that half- wrecked Indiaman,
as slowly we drew near,
Let fly, by God ! a broadside at The
The drench killed five and wounded
seven — no very handsome blunder
To drive us mad ! but stop a bit !
Now let our cannon thunder ?
Ply, ply 'em fierce, the shot'll pierce
whilst close beside we round to !
'Way, boarders ! Mizzen chains my
chance ! we'll find out where she's
bound to !
What ! Gone the men from every gun ?
her lesson have we taught her ?
We yield, sir ! ' bawls her Captain,
* and for God's sake give us
• THE LONDON.' PRIVATEER i . 7
She was from Kingston to our joy,
The richest of the sailers
Which formed the valuable Convoy
Whose frigate fail'd to hail us.
Her master was part-owner too,
And now a broken man.
His name was Captain Martin Drew
His daughter was called Ann.
A delicate bloom enriched her cheeks,
her eyes with love-stars glowed,
She'd cherry lips and nut-brown hair
dressed daintily /i la mode ;
She view'd our Captain with a smile ;
we guessed the pretty dear
Was like the ship a choice prize to The
Our Captain sweetly smiles on Ann, and
says ' I'm yours for life :
I'll give your father back his ship if yu
will be my wife.'
Whereat she drops a curtsey and with
joy her fine eyes fill :
And stretching forth her little hand she
softly says, ' I will.'
Now was not here a victory .'' and was
not here a prize }
What gold could buy her tender love }
what jewels match her eyes }
ii8 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Then we belay'd what we'd begun ;
And Captain Drew, shipmaster,
For life made this young couple one
By acting as ship's pastor.
What said our crew who'd lost their
When they regained their foc'sle ?
* He'll find more ships with richer
Our Captain still is Rokeshill.'
So honour'd be the mariners who stand
by those who head them !
Who'll fight for them, who'll starve for
them, who'll die for them, and —
wed them !
Such noble souls we have at sea as sure
these rhymes make clear.
Here's to you then, ye sailors of The
London^ privateer !
The Deal Boatmen
Old Bill he bawls out ' There's a ship
on the Sands !
Launch the boat ! Look alive ! She'll
be lost with all hands ! '
We fisted the gunnel, 'twas rescue we
The shingle roar'd under the keel as it
Flash ! sheets the white smother ; our
fight must be won !
And hark ! through the wind shears
the boom of a gun.
Flatten in ! sit to wind'ard ! a ten
minutes' stretch —
Then head East by North, and we're
certain to fetch.
About ! Dip the sail ! She's a point
on the lee !
Hurrah for the lives to be won from
the sea !
Hand over that spy-glass — her fore
and main shrouds
Are black with her people secured
there in crowds !
120 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
D'ye hear their faint cheer, mates ?
there's forty if one !
We'll save the whole mob, lads !
again, hear the gun !
More help will be coming, and if
I see just.
There's Joe in our wake — but he
won't be there fust !
Ease off, by the dark o' your nail —
now she's free !
Oh livelies ! how lovely she leaps
o'er the sea !
Ten women I'm thinkin', and children
I count forty-one ? By God's love,
how they stare !
* Oh keep up your spirits, we've come
for to save.'
They hear me ! they cheer me, O
stout hearts and brave !
First children, then women, the men
in their turn.
Up helm and so steer to round under
We're deep as it is, mates ; let Joe
take the rest ;
The children are with us and they are
THE DEAL BOATMEN 121
The women are praying and cry as
they pray ;
But what is their lingo, and what do
they say ?
No matter ! They're human, whate'er
else they be,
And nothing that's human should
drown in the sea.
At least that's our notion : as sailors
Though them that we save be I-talian
The Roosian or Proosian or white
men or black,
May trust to the Briton who's spoke
of as Jack.
(A Legend of Tynemouth, 1804.)
In March in eighteen hundred years
A shallop shoved from off a South Sea
And after rowing, put a man ashore,
An old, damp, weedy man, clothed as
The coast was Tynemouth, graced by
Papish ruins ;
Beside that sea-boro' runs the river
And to the best of Tynemouth's rather
Our ancient mariner repaired to dine.
He looked so oddly in his cap of fur.
His shaggy breeches and his shaggier
His red-veined eyes and fore-tooth
His great ears sagged with hoops, his
THAT ABRAHAM 123
That Mr Porter, landlord of the inn,
Said * Prythec, your name ? ' With
He dribbled, 'Sir, I was the Guest of Sin,
I'm noiD that Abraham who saw the
' What wicked ship was she ? ' the land-
' Was she of Shields or Newcassel,
this Sinner ? '
* Neither 1 No living ship can be more
Fm hungry. Master : let me have some
A broad beef-steak, with onions, bread
Was served ; he ate the meat, he
drained the can,
Whilst Mr Porter, landlord, gazed in
Not for his reckoning, but of the Man.
The stranger's jaws worked like a
starved cow chewing.
From time to time he'd lift a leathern
And whilst he munched he'd stead-
fastly keep viewing
What lay within and swallow down
124 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
' Oh what a vice is gold ! ' he'd some-
* It makes men devils once it gets a
Time was I had a soul I called my own ;
Now I'm that Abraham who saw the
Then draws he from his purse a piece
And says ' There's more in this than
you might reckon ;
It's worth seven silver rix-dollars all
And once belonged to Captain Vander-
' O' the Flying Dutchman ? ' cried out Mr
* Now of what other ? ' sneered that old
*A guinea call that piece and keep
Get me tobacco and a pipe to suck.'
Trembling he sank into an easy chair.
And shed tobacco-smoke with wrinkled
His clothes, his skin, his mouth, his
Made Mr Porter think him something
THAT ABRAHAM 125
First at the Man, then at the gold
he'd look, —
That Man now blew a cloud, now
took a sip,
And muttered, as though reading from
' 1 am that Abraham who saw the Ship.'
' But why that Abraham ? ' mine host
' Dwell not you on that Abraham too
much, man ! '
The other scowled : * What Abraham
But me, who's lived aboard the Flying
Pray sit ye down, O patron of Three
Who dance the day round on your
painted sign ;
Whistle the drawer, your cellar shall
not fail us.
Clap nose in froth, the reckoning isimine.
I am a-weary, and my old heart aches
With burden of long years : but what
Who with the gale's wings flies, and
The ooze of seas whose tongues lick
up the sun ? '
126 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
' What is your age ? ' quoth Mr
Porter, blandly ;
' My age ? ' says he, with dribbling
' 'Tis eight score years and seven,
and ' (adds he grandly)
' I am that Abraham who saw the Ship.'
The landlord dropped his pipe : ^ Eight
score and seven ! '
He faintly cried : ' What yarn is this
you tell ? '
' No yarn,' says Abraham, ' 'tis true
as heaven ;
As true as that my soul is bound to
But what of years ? It is not they
that make us ;
It is the body's growth. Time's
the clock's tongue.
And if decay's forbidden to o'ertake us,
Then that which cannot die must
aye be young.
Refill your pipe and charge afresh
I cant decay ! and when my tale is said
You'll own no stranger yarn was
From out the mud which forms old
THAT ABRAHAM .27
He mused awhile, his sunk eyes
And now he takes a thought and
now a sip,
And mutters, whilst his fingers seek
* I am that Abraham who saw the Ship.'
* In sixteen thirty - seven I came to
In Poplar, and when ten was put to
A ruddy, saucy fellow, bold and tight,
When I was young, and all the girls
You would not think so, sir, to see
me here ;
What woman would my face and
figure woo }
Yet old men oft by girls are feignt?d
And what is strange, old men believe
At nineteen years of age I went as
Aboard a tall South Seaman for the
A sailor should be arm'd for every fate ;
To gorge and end him ports and
128 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
And arm'd I was, but who could
The awful sequel to that South Sea trip ?
For I could say when twenty-one
' I am that Abraham who saw the
* We touched at Mossel Bay for
wood and water ;
When loaded, for the Ship our course
we bent ;
A sudden rip-surge struck us on
Whelm'd us in foam and down the
All sank save one who Abraham is
He gain'd the shore upon a piece
Crawled a few fathoms, finding he
And lay as though just cast up by the sea.
When life returned the sparkling
night was come ;
He heard the forest-beasts, the breakers'
The sand stretched ghastly and the
cliffs stood dumb ;
Helpless alone, he lay upon that shore.'
THAT ABRAHAM 129
The weedy mariner broke off" and
And seized his chair's arms with
And with a red stare said, in voice that
' I am that Abraham who saw the Ship.'
' One forenoon 'neath the tree to which
I was awakened by a sound of speech ;
Five men stood near ! I thought that
I still slept ;
Two lounged beside a boat hauled on
What men were they .'' I scantied with
Shapes of the dead in living sailors'
Faces of men who, fated not to die.
Yet still were dead without the dead's
They looked swashbucklers in jackboot
And rump-round breeches and hard-
weather hat ;
But pale as storm-dark foam was every
And no man seemed to see what he
130 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
It was not blindness, but the gaze that
Beyond the object that it seemed to
* Oh ! ' cried the old Salt, ' It had
come at last !
I was that Abraham who saw the ship.
* Yes sir, by every saint aloft ! she lay
Within a league, a palHd, poison 'd
Soft-rocking on the swell that brimmed
With flash of wet side and sails
Through several ports small cannon
eyed the water ;
Her tall poop-lanthorn darts a misty
Some tarnished gilt-scroll decorates each
Upon her bulge the weed she lifts is
I felt the terror sweat-cold in my brains.
Gazed at the sailors near me — Oh sir !
such men !
Then said, " What's yonder ship with
three dogvanes ? "
One answer'd : " She iss calt ter Flying
THAT ABRAHAM 131
They filled the boat and blew away with
And nimbly did we through the water
They took with them the Hero of this
That man called Abraham who saw the
' Her sides are pock-marked where the
She makes no foam when down her
Silent aloft some seamen hang in work.
The paint is bubbled where it lies and
Some figures move upon her foc'sle-
And some are patching sail-cloth in the
'Twas Death in Life, the accursed Life
Dead with blind vision, brain-still,
A portly person stood upon the poop ;
(Three poops she hath, the topmost is
called royal ;)
In either ear he wore a golden hoop.
His white beard hid his breast by coil
132 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
His long lean nose rear'd out, his eyes
His hair hung o'er his ears in ends of
He said in thrilling tones funereal,
" Thou art the Abraham who saw the
Ship ! "
*At me he stared with bush-browed
Dim-silvered by that death which is not
(His face, arched nose and rugged skin
Was like an eagle peering from his nest).
Then asks he : " What are you ? " and
I did say.
" And who is King of Britain .'' who of
Spain } "
And then he says : " What is the year
and day .? "
And when 1 told him he roars, "Try
Sulphur consume you ! " Vanderdecken
" From Java sailed I sixteen twenty one :
So that for thirty-seven years have I
To fetch old Amsterdam by moon and
THAT ABRAHAM 1.33
I'll have you keel-haul'd If again you lie.
We Dutchmen love all Britons so to
Lie if you durst ! and look me in the eye,
You man called Abraham who saw the
' Pray Abraham,' says Mr Porter, host,
' What was the year when you the ship
beheld ? '
'The year was sixteen fifty seven at
'// century and a half!' the landlord
' What art thou, wretch .'' a mortal or
a demon } '
Shrieked out mine host with terror in
his cry ;
'I'm one of Captain Vanderdecken's
Who, having served aboard him cannot
I'm damned for ever and must live for
That is the fate on which all sailors
Who speak or board that Death Ship
Is the Lord's conquest by fierce
134 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Nor old nor young am I ; for dead
No pendulum wags the cent'ries to let
God's eye above, relentless, unforgiving,
Dwells on that Abraham who saw the
' Ah me ! ' he moaned ; the landlord
thought he wept.
Not his were tears, but that which
dries up tears.
* Within the Dutchmen's curse I've
Alive with vulgar wants and dead in
O pitiless heart ! that gapeth at my grief.
Yet shuddereth with the shocks of
Fearing a man by death denied relief !
By life the hopes and joys which make
up life !
Shame on ye ! think of that which
I have seen,
The madden'd ship, the foaming cloud-
high surge :
The lightning o'er the boltsprit-end,
Of hell's glares to the blackmost ocean's
THAT ABRAHAM 135
And Vanderdecken kneeling with
And hideous flout of God upon his lip, —
These terrors have / seen, whilst you re
By that poor Abraham who saw the Ship.'
He rose and fumbling, fits his cap of fur,
Looks on the clock as one who cannot
Gazed at the reckoning-slate and said,
' Good sir.
What is the score ? I have no art to
' No more — you've paid — we're quits,'
said Mr Porter,
Thankful to heaven the old Fiend should
' Your charge was in this gold rix-dollar
The old man sighed : his face was long
* Ah, who can tell how spacious is this
Save he who hath no friend in life or
Who knows no human sorrow, faith or
Who breathes with lungs uncharged by
mortal breath ?
136 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
/ cannot die — the globe spreads wide
He muttered to himself, ' What's my
next trip ?
I ^cannot die and gain the Silent Shore.
I'm ever Abraham who saw the Ship.'
In Falmouth Harbour
Dost hear the frost a-slnging at the
hearkening cabin-windows !
A pallid underchanting like the phantom
moan of ghosts ?
'Tis not the music murmur'd when the
night soft-scented wind blows,
But wailings of the summer in death's
The flowers they are crying o'er the
hours which were dying
When winter slew their colour, and
their perfume, and their light :
The green leaf in the dark soil, and the
red leaf, both are sighing.
And countless waft of butterflies whose
shapes are sunk in night.
Dost hear the airy voices of the
thousand starred Presence,
Thin-hymning lamentation in the ice-
black throat o' th' year ?
138 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Sweet souls of rose and violet, of
brightness and of essence
Commingling in a song of frost to
woo the sailor's ear !
To woo and win the memory of rose-
leaves which have faded,
The love-lamp of the glow-worm, and
the robed tree's lordly height ;
The tenderness of buttercups on green
lawns softly shaded,
The sunbeam on the river and the
Visions lost in night.
Tke Ma^oiver, 1 620-1
The Lord our God is Monarch of the
mighty Universe ;
The tyrants of men's conscience doth
He visit with His curse.
His law unto His children's heart is,
^ Be My worship thine.'
The despot of the soul cries, ' Nay !
the Lord God's worship's mine.'
We wish'd to pray to God at home ;
the tyrants still cried, ' Stand !
Ye shall not worship as ye will, nor
shall ye leave the land.'
By stratagem (full futile oft) the
narrow seas we crossed :
We gain'd the Lord in our own way,
but all things else we lost.
A broken, sighing company of men
and wives we were ;
But God who loves the upright heart
took on Him all our care.
I40 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Come, sing to God the Merciful,
Whose eye is on men's sorrow !
If dark and dreary be to-day, He
clothes with light the morrow !
From Amsterdam to Leyden town we
march 'd in penury ;
Our dream was of Virginia, beyond the
Until at last by sturdy toil bless'd by
our Lord's sweet power.
We purchased two brave little ships,
the Speedwell and Mayflower.
In these we met adventures which did
breed us grief in plenty ;
And then from old Southampton sail'd
in August, sixteen twenty.
We headed tor Virginia, and in the
One hundred and two passengers all in
one small ship pent.
Besides the Pilgrims were the crew
and stores and ordnance weighty.
The ship but measured over-all one
hundred tons and eighty.
THE PILGRIMS .4'
Among us were good Master Sowle, and
Bradford and Myles Standish,
And Brewster, Winslow, Fuller, Priest
and names which fame shall brandish.
Our Pilot was call'd Master Clark, and
Coppin was our gunner,
And let me Mary Chilton mind, and
the stout heart that won her.
When we had sail'd a hundred leagues
from where old England ends.
There falls a holy afternoon upon the
The sun hangs red and glorious above
the ocean line,
God's beauty and God's majesty around
about us shine.
'Twas Master Brewster sang a hymn
in which we all took part.
The solemn waters timed our praise
with long throbs of their heart.
How beautiful it is to hear upon the
A congregation's sweet-breasts sing in
sacred harmony !
The white sails catch the swelling notes
as though they, too, adored ;
The music echoes in their caves and
floats unto the Lord.
142 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Scarce had the cadence of our psahn
ceased in our topmost sail,
When, through the crimson of the eve,
we heard the speedwell hail.
* Ho, Master Jones, my helm must
shift a sudden port to seek.'
'What's wrong with Master Reynold's
ship } ' ' The SpeedwelFs sprung
a leak ! '
She carried eighteen passengers — all
Pilgrims, as were we ;
We could not leave our well-beloved
to founder in the sea.
'We'll shift our helm for Plymouth
town,' our Captain Jones bawled
'We're mariners; I'll stand by you;
so put the ships about.'
We grieved, some wept ; it was the
Lord who willed our cup should
And whilst the sad moon slowly rose
we sang another hymn.
The night-beam silver'd every face, the
ships stemmed pale as foam,
And with the night-wind filled with
psalms, we steered again for
THE PILGRIMS 143
And now it was God's heavenly will
His mercy should be known,
For after He had led us back He bade
us forth alone.
The Speedwell gave her mission up, and
Reynolds — say, what meant he ?
The Mayflower put to sea again, Sep-
tember, sixteen twenty.
So all alone upon the deep that girdles
us like Time,
That onward goes as we go on, in
In darkness oft, in sunshine oft, in
hollows of the surge.
Or tranced when the evening star
bejewels ocean's verge ;
We sleep, we weep, our prayer is for the
liberty we missed.
For lands where freedom dwells, and
where men worship as they list.
'Twas pleasant when the dew tell sweet
as rain upon the lip.
To view the picture of the sea made by
out little ship.
144 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The water broke in clouds of gold
beneath her rolling sides,
Her canvas slapped the star-crowned
masts, astern the sea-fire slides.
The children sporting on the deck
make music with their laughter ;
The Elders talk in solemn group about
the near Hereafter ;
The women ply their knitting-pins and
whisper one another
Of ruined homes and ruined lives, of
father, mother, brother.
And now a hymn may swell to heaven,
and now the sailors coarsely
Will bellow back the captain's shout
and tune their labour hoarsely.
So dies the day, so speeds the wake,
and over all is God ;
Virginia's sweets are not for us, we're
steering for Cape Cod.
But wheresoe'er our haven is, yea,
even were it Greenland,
Go where we may we there are free :
we never were in England !
Then glory to our God on high, to
Him all praise be given ;
We lost in Britain's thraldom — hell !
to find in freedom — heaven !
The Sailing Ship
(A Duet by two aged seamen of Belvedere)
Jack. — Ah, Tom, the good old days
The sailing ship has pass'd ;
Why is she numbered with the
Tom. — She was too good to last.
Jack. — Why, right you are ! and what
A sailing ship these days
Is iron and two sides o' wall —
Tom. — A tank as never pays.
Jack. — W^ith double yards and no
And anchors stowed — as how ?
146 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Tom. — Why, in the 'awse-pipes where
In the steel wedge-shaped bow.
Jack. — With monkey masts and narrow
And waterways awash,
She's like a lean and tattered
Tom. — Half- starved on longshore
Jack. — Her clews are fathoms out of
Of every slim yard-arm :
To wind'ard she can never sail —
Tom. — I'd rather boss a farm.
Jack. — The Dago and the Chaney man.
The Dutchman and Hindoo,
The Proosian and Hi-tal-ian —
Tom. — Do form her measly crew.
THE SAILING SHIP 147
Jack. — They flics our red flag on
And honours thus the rabble ;
No Angleesh spoken fore or
Tom. — Nowt speech but gabble-babble.
Jack. — The windlass-ends are dead
On which we used to lean ;
They've done away with holy-
Tom. — 'Cos what's there left to clean ?
Jack. — 'Tis spit and polish as you say,
All's brass-work and all's paint.
Is there a single seam to pay .''
Tom. — Well, Jack, maybe there ain't.
Jack. — Ay, that's so ; where's the
The lower stunsail boom ?
But fo'scle soup and pork and
* The first reef in a four-reef single topsail was
148 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Tom. — Will stay till crack o' doom.
Jack. — The weevil's still the ancient
The duff came in the Ark ;
The cook still makes the
stomach squirm —
XoM. — Though you was born a shark.
Jack. — Yes, pay and food goes allers on,
It's well we're both ashore !
It's * Rise up, Jack, and sit
down, John ! '
Tom. — Then — now — and hevermore !
Jack. — I loves to recollect them days
When the bows were full and
When seldom would a ship
In putting her about.
* Raise tacks and sheets,' then
' mainsail haul ! '
Then round the foreyards swing ;
The bo'sun pipes his silver call —
THE SAILING SHIP 149
Tom. — The crew in English sing.
Jack. — With forty men betwixt the rails,
Three taws'ls reePd together ;
And sights of rum that never
Tom. — To please in every weather.
Jack. — Them days are gone and with
The ro-mance of the sea.
How can a sailor-man get drunk
On cocoa and ship's tea ?
The owners say it's good for
To be denied their tot.
What say ye, Tom .'' how goes
it then !
Tom. — What says I ? Tommy rot .''
ISO THE FATHER OF THE SEA
Both. — Oh vanish'dare our ocean joys,
When young we was and haler !
When we was hearty lively
A sailor was a sailor.
It's steamboats now, and sail-
The likes of which we've sung ;
'Twas other hearts and other
When you and me was young.
Captain Teach (Blackbeard)
Let's sing a song of Pyrates ; did you
ever hear of Teach :
His cable-strands of plunder, murder,
arson, rape, would reach
From old Mahomet's Bridge of Death,
where dead men's ghosts tall over,
Unto the Gates where sits Queen Sin,
the Dam of Death the Rover.
Let's sing a song of Pyrates, lads, and
be that song of Teach,
The terror of the ocean and the horror
of the beach ;
The Hero of the Bloody Flag, the plank
and pike and pistol.
Who came from where most Pyrates
come, I mean the Port of Bristol.
Snickersnee, boys, snickersnee.
Sing this roundabout with me.
Masthead the black no-quarter flag with
yellow skull and bones.
Queen Sin bends on the bunting
When Death her son goes hunting.
The course the Pyrate always steers
is straight for Davy Jones.
152 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
The first ship Teach commanded was a
tall stout Guineaman ;
He seized her with her freight of cocoa,
flour and cinnamon,
Then mounting her with forty guns
for Blood and Booty steer'd
To make his flag as hideous as his long,
coarse coal-black beard.
A horror was that plaited furze of
Affrighting as a comet streaming fan-
tailed through the air.
It stretched from just below his eyes
unto his belt that bristled
With shocking daggers and small-arms
in whose throats bullets whistled.
Like a Ramalies wig 'twas kinked in
curls with ribbons very gay.
No fearfuller sight Vv^as ever seen in
In holsters he slung pistols which were
never less than nine :
Live matches stuck he in his hair to
make his red eyes shine.
Of such a wretch pray reckon his
biographers wrote well
When Teach they swore thus lighted,
looked a ' Fury straight from hell.'
CAPTAIN TEACH 153
He fought The Scarboro' man-of-war and
made her run away ;
In every ship he comes across this
Pyrate finds a prey.
He swept the streets of Charles-Town
with wild mobs of privateers
And seized the stores and fired the
homes and lamed the place for years.
Then his own crews he turns upon and
robs them of their treasure
Of which the sacking and the torch had
yielded them good measure.
Some fifty he maroons and then (so
sharp-set is he tang'd)
He drowns full fifty by a trick ; the
others he gets hang'd.
No Pyrate ever loved a joke as he ot
whom 1 sing ;
The nearer 'twas to murder why, the
funnier was the thing.
He'd wrench two pistols from his belt
and fire 'em under table ;
His pleasure you could measure by the
number he'd disable.
He'd call his crew into the hold and
cork 'em under hatch,
And (being of the number) to a stench-
pot put a niat':!i :
154 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
* Now, lads, as we're all bound to hell,
let's see who'll stand it longest.'
And, Lord ! how proud that demon was
when'er he proved the strongest !
There's very much in this bad world
to make us Christians irate ;
But what is there we may compare to
Teach the bearded Pyrate ?
The hour of retribution comes to every
The pistol, pike or halter ends the story
and it's over.
What is the law of destiny } or is law
ruled by fate ^
Who waits an answer unto this must be
content to wait.
Fire, murder, plunder, demon-orgie,
rose to such a height.
If they don't end then Carolina perishes
out o' sight.
To grace the foreshore with the Pyrates
ironed, pitched and dangling.
To court to them those bald-birds which
are Pyrates too in mangling.
Was now Virginia's policy ; the
Governor ('tis said)
Offered in full an hundred pounds for
Blackbeard Teach's head.
CAPTAIN TEACH .55
For heads of other captains forty pounds
apiece was given,
A bo'sun's was worth fifteen and a
common sailor's seven.
In fair Virginia's River James were
anchored for a time
Two well-manned British Battleships
known as the Pearl and Lime.
The first-Lieutenant of the Pearl was
Mr Edward Manyard,*
Who never sighted Pyrate but away the
Rover ran hard.
The Governor of Virginia to Lieutenant
* Please fill two sloops with men and
bring me BlackbeardTeach'shead .'''
They had no great guns ; their small
arms were sword and pike and
With these the sloops set sail to fetch
the head of Teach of Bristol.
They caught him in an estuary and
chased him on the mud ;
His people fought like demons : all
was thunder, yells and blood.
* By some this name is spelt Ma)nard
156 THE FATHER OF THE SEA
A negro stood with live-match in the
Prepared to blow all hands aloft should
Manyard chance to win.
The Pyrate's broadside swept the sloops
and whilst the cannon roar'd
* Down underdeck ! ' shouts Manyard :
* And I'll call ye when they board ! '
' We've sent the rogues to sulphur ! '
bellows Teach ; ' now follow !
follow ! '
* On deck my hearts ! ' cried Manyard,
and his men leap to his holloa !
Then lunge and flash ! then smite and
smash ! 'tis figures fallen or reeling :
The blood runs with them as they run,
you see the small sloop heeling.
But down, at last, with gaping wounds
that Blackbeard Teach falls dead.
And Manyard, spitting on his sword,
cuts off the Pyrate's head.
The boltsprit-end doth hold it fast to
hang there and abide ;
'Twas like an old crow's mangled nest,
a dead man's face inside.
Snickersnee, boys, snickersnee.
Sing this roundabout with me ;
CAPTAIN TEACH 157
Masthead the black no-quarter flag with
yellow skull and bones.
Queen Sin bends on the bunting
When Death her son goes hunting ;
The course the Pyrate always steers is
straight for Davy Jones.
MERCAT I'RESS, EDINBURGH
Famous Novels of the Sea
By the same Author
Neiv Edition^ hound in cloth^ Half-a-cro^fn each.
Those marked * bound in cloth^ 1 5. net.
THE WRECK OF THE "GROSVENOR."
AN OCEAN FREE LANCE.
THE FROZEN PIRATE.
* A SEA QUEEN.
* LITTLE LOO.
THE LADY MAUD.
* MY WATCH BELOW.
* JOHN HOLDSWORTH, CHIEF MATE.
* A STRANGE VOYAGE.
A SAILOR'S SWEETHEART.
BETWIXT THE FORELANDS.
MRS DINE'S JEWELS.
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & COMPANY
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below.
UC. SOUTH! ■'
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